Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Praying to an Arminian God

I had just finished Sunday’s post when Antemodernist dropped a new post of his own into my inbox. In this one, he starts with a question posed by a Calvinist: “What does praying to an Arminian God actually accomplish, since he can’t compel anyone to believe?” The Calvinist went on to assert, “Arminians pray like Calvinists when they pray for salvation.”

Antemodernist answers the question, but first explores a much more difficult one: “What does praying to a Calvinist God actually accomplish?”

Clearing the Deadwood

Well, I’m not a five-point Arminian (and wouldn’t like the name applied to me in any case), but that first question prompted me to sit back down at my keyboard and think for a bit.

First of all, I would never say “God can’t” in this context. That’s a mischaracterization even of the Arminian position, let alone mine. I would rather say it’s my conviction that God doesn’t choose to compel belief. The writers of scripture assert that our God can make men do all kinds of interesting things, but compelled belief does not serve God’s purposes or glorify him.

Secondly, I doubt Arminians pray like Calvinists. I know I certainly don’t. There are lots of things one can pray for the unsaved while firmly believing that God’s sovereignty does not require stripping them of all choice concerning salvation. So I don’t generally pray, “Oh Lord, please save So-and-So.”

Praying For the Unsaved

Rather, I pray for things like these:

  • I pray that the Holy Spirit will give me guidance in speaking so that what I say to this person is courageous, error free, unhypocritical and persuasive.
  • Where the unsaved person is beyond my reach, I pray the Lord will bring them in contact with caring believers who will say the things I can’t.
  • I pray that the Holy Spirit will bring conviction of sin, righteousness and judgment.
  • I pray that the love of Christ will shine through above all else.
  • I pray that the Lord will order the circumstances of the unsaved person’s life to draw his or her attention to the importance of the eternal. This may involve bringing about a need, an illness, the loss of a loved one, or anything else that serves as a wakeup call. I’ve had wakeup calls myself, and I know what they feel like.
  • I pray that the Lord will remove distractions so that the unsaved person can think clearly about the choice presented and that the words of scripture will ring in their ears, demanding a response.
  • I pray that the Lord will make all excuses, counterarguments and forms of denial sound as lame and unconvincing to the person making them as they really are. That includes protests about the failings of the messenger.
  • I pray that the word of Christ shared will be clearly understood. The god of this world is in the business of blinding the minds of those who are perishing. Is it wrong to pray, “Open their eyes, Lord”? I don’t think so. If anyone can stop the perishing from becoming the perished, it is our God, and he doesn’t need to remove the option of volitional surrender to make that happen.

Arminian Prayer

Hey, maybe some Arminians pray this way too. When I meet one, I’ll let you know.

No comments :

Post a Comment