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Date: QLD Labour Day [4/5/’20]

Keynote Speaker: Paul E. Momoh, MTh (Newcastle), PhD (cand.), FIML. Minister of the Gospel. Educationist & Management Specialist.

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Academic Short Paper Samples

SUBJECT: PROVIDENCE & UNIVERSALISM

[By Paul E. Momoh]

In the recent history of Christianity, the doctrine of providence generated much controversy on several fronts. Not least of which is the dialogue on the ultimate Salvation of all people, otherwise called ‘universalism’.

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Reference: Calvin, J. (1845). ‘First’ Book: The Institutes of Christian Religion, Christian Classics. In Beveridge H. (trans.) Ethereal Library. Retrieved from http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/institutes.i.html (accessed 5/5/2015)

Forum Posts

Is Providence a problem at the very heart of the Christian understanding of Salvation?

In their volume on Modern Christian Thought, Livingston & Fiorenza (2006) attempts to examine the works of Gerrit Cornelius Berkouwer, who argues and acknowledges openly a belief in God’s providence in relation to Salvation. Berkouwer states that, the reality of evil is not only a mystery but ‘more importantly, it is a religious confession of faith and not a philosophical problem’. He argues that, God’s election is at the very heart of the good news of the Gospel, and that, it must not be understood outside of the grace of God in Christ Jesus (p. 398).

Livingston & Fiorenza (2006) also states that, Berkouwer and Karl Bath are one on the subject of God’s sovereignty, as both argue likewise that, God’s sovereignty cannot be divorced from his love, nor can his election be separated from Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, Berkouwer rejects Barth’s understanding of Election in which Barth speaks of it as something of a theological speculation. Rather, he argues that, Election can only be fully understood in the context of faith, and as a call and summons (p. 398-399).

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Reference:

Livingston, J.C. & Fiorenza, F.S. (eds.) (2006). Evangelical theology: Gerrit Cornelius Berkouwer. In Modern Christian thought. Vol. 2, the twentieth century. Minneapolis, Fortress.

 

Providence, Salvation And ‘Universalism’

Gerrit Cornelius Berkouwer [cited in Livingston & Fiorenza (2006)] suggests that, ‘universalism’ (ultimate Salvation for all) bothers on emotionalism by people who abhor the idea of hell and eternal damnation. For, as he argues, the Scripture speaks clearly of both grace and salvation, as much as it does speak of judgment and rejection.

Livingston & Fiorenza (2006)) states that, ‘universalism’ does closely link to the doctrine of divine election which is, in itself, inextricably linked to the doctrines of salvation and reprobation (or rejection). These doctrines, in turn, link to eschatology, or the last days. In this regard, Berkouwer further suggests that, biblical eschatology does not exist in isolation and need not be taught as distinct from, or independent of, faith.

While Orthodox Calvinism argues that, divine election invariably implies reprobation (or rejection), Berkouwer argues otherwise, and states that, God’s reprobation or rejection is only a holy response by God to human sin and is not, as orthodox Calvinism teaches, a ‘logical corollary of election’ whereby in their relationship, there ought to be a necessary symmetry (p. 399).

________________________

Reference:

Livingston, J.C. & Fiorenza, F.S. (eds.) (2006). Evangelical theology: Gerrit

    Cornelius Berkouwer. In Modern Christian thought. Vol. 2, the twentieth

century. Minneapolis, Fortress.

Forum Responses

(1) Hi Elizabeth.

Thanks for your thought-provoking post on Calvin.

I find Calvin (1845) to suggest a basic doctrine of the providence of God that appears to link to your interesting post. This doctrine is the existence of a God who finished his creative work once and for all, and left it in a set order (sec. 1).

Calvin (1845) suggests that, the presence of God is conspicuous by the sheer view of the sky and the earth, such that even when wicked men turn to the word of God through faith, they “understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God…” (Hebrews 11:3 NRSV).

However, in the context of Salvation, the concept of “concurrence” suggested by Berkouwer G.C. [and cited in Livingston & Fiorenza (2006)], may suffice. It states that, the acts of God and the acts of humans (in accepting salvation) do coincide (p. 398). Anyone else to take this dialogue further?

_________________________

References:

Calvin, J. (1845). ‘First’ book: The institutes of Christian religion, Christian classics. In     Beveridge H. (trans.). Ethereal Library.

Livingston, J.C. & Fiorenza, F.S. (eds.) (2006). Evangelical theology: Gerrit

 Cornelius Berkouwer. In Modern Christian thought. Vol. 2, the twentieth

Century. Minneapolis, Fortress.

 

(2) Hi Diana,

Thanks for the interesting points raised in your post. I will like to engage with the first part of your conversion: the dialogue on God as Creator with oversight for his creation, and in relation to Salvation.

Calvin (1845) offers one of the basic doctrines of the providence of God in the ‘First’ book which this post will draw upon. It is on the role of the Creator as Governor and Preserver (sec. 1).

Calvin (1845) suggests that, by a special providence, as Creator and Preserver, the Creator is able to cherish, sustain, and take oversight of all the works of his hands, to the very least, even the Sparrows which he created. Calvin goes further to cite a psalm of David as an example, in support of his claim, where David not only links God to creation but also presupposes a continual oversight of the same as:

“The Lord looks down from heaven; he sees all humankind. From where he sits enthroned he watches all the inhabitants of the earth” (Psalm 33;13-14 NRSV).

_________________________

References:

Calvin, J. (1845). ‘First’ Book: The Institutes of Christian Religion, Christian Classics. In  Beveridge H. (trans.) Ethereal Library. Retrieved from     http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/institutes.i.html (accessed 5/5/2015)

 

(3) G’day.

Calvin (1845) suggests that, by a special providence, as Creator and Preserver, the Creator is able to cherish, sustain, and take oversight of all the works of his hands, to the very least, even the Sparrows which he created. Calvin goes further to cite a psalm of David as an example where David not only links God to creation but also presupposes a continual oversight of the same as, “The Lord looks down from heaven;
he sees all humankind. From where he sits enthroned he watches all the inhabitants of the earth” (Psalm 33;13-14 NRSV).

Nevertheless, in the context of Salvation, we turn our attention to the concept of “concurrence” suggested by Berkouwer G.C. [and cited in Livingston & Fiorenza (2006)], which states that, the acts of God and the acts of human beings (as in accepting God’s gift of salvation) do coincide (p. 398).

_________________________

References:

Calvin, J. (1845). ‘First’ Book: The Institutes of Christian Religion, Christian Classics. In  Beveridge H. (trans.) Ethereal Library. Retrieved from

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/institutes.i.html (accessed 5/5/2015)

Livingston, J.C. & Fiorenza, F.S. (eds.) (2006). Evangelical theology: Gerrit Cornelius Berkouwer. In Modern Christian thought. Vol. 2, the twentieth

century. Minneapolis, Fortress.

From A Bad Start Or Failed Journey In Life/Academics To A Brand-New Ending

[Culled from the Second edition of “Changing Your Life At Midlife: Breaking New Grounds In Your Second Half” (2004): A Life & Truth Book By Paul E. Momoh]

No matter how far away you are from a good Start, you can start today and have a brand-new Ending in the journey of this life. Just before you say (I better join you to say so), how can that be: I have more intriguing truth for you. You can make today the beginning of the fastest and longest turn in your life’s journey. It is a turn in which you do 180-degrees away from where you are today.

Some would say, the damages have already been done and nothing can change. ‘You are done’. ‘People in your world will never forget what you did. They will keep saying it’. ‘Your people will never forgive what you did’. Even your best buddy might say, ‘either live with the consequences or die to end it all’. Nonetheless, I have good news for you.

It is the good news about such situations in life and the ‘people say’ factor. It is the truth about life itself.

We start here: People’s memory of a past evil is pretty short, at the instance of the good and pleasant. So, if and when you dare make a good and pleasant change today, people will only remember the new-you and hardly remember the old-you!

Why are people’s memory so short AND Why is that so true of life? Here’s more on life & truth: People hate to think the bad memory of your bad deeds, as much as they hate to remember the bad memory of their own bad deeds.

This truth works together for good to the fortune of those who get the truth: There is no dark past that is stronger than the unseen future, if only you chose to invest the present in the appropriate wisdom for a brand-new ending.

Let’s be clear on the truth. When you change from bad to good, people just quickly move their minds away from the painful, evil, memory of your bad deeds. They move on to the memory of the new you. They do the same when it comes down to themselves as well. Both the bad memory of your past evil deeds, as well as the bad memory of their own past deeds, just hurts their brain. So, it’s not like they are doing you a favour. Not at all. They are doing themselves a favour. It is the natural thing for the human brain to flee from the memory of the ugly at the instance of the pleasant. Hence, your change is good news to all human brains, including yours! Your brain can’t wait to have the new-you. Let’s start here today molding new bricks to construct the new you, and to do so with the living bricks of truth -spoken words of truth – that can change you and change your outcome.

It starts with a change of life and a change of direction in life. Some need a change of life for a change of direction to eventuate. Others who are already in the journey of a changed-life, would just need a change of direction. Either way, if you continue in a new direction long enough, you will soon have the new-you over-ride the former-you.

If you have lived a disgraced life and hurt your journey in life, regardless of how bad it got, I dare you to make a 180-degrees-turn today. Both the best (and the worst) decisions in life occur in one day, not two. So, life offers to us all a Day in time to celebrate, either as our birthday, anniversary day or some milestone day. Today might as well be a Day in Time for you.

If you have been a thief, swindler or cheat, it all started in one Day. You can make a change in one Day. Start working hard and earn good money to give away, so you have a chance to change that record: from stealing from people to giving to people. If you do change your life and do so long enough before your time is up, you sure will, and very soon, have a brand-new ending.

However, if you think you need the 180-degrees change but still allow yourself to feel like, oh no, not today. Well …I mean, I shouldn’t be talking to you in the first place. You know why? People like you will soon be stone-dead anyway when they cannot change their direction anymore. One more day, week, month, or year, means one more day…closer to your grave. Did any of your loved ones tell you that today? No, they won’t but it’s the truth of life we all face. You need to man-up and face up to it today.

We attempt one more example of how to do this. if you have been, say, a sexual pervert or prostitute, I dare you to make a turn today. Get yourself one husband or wife and begin to live the very opposite of who you were. Soon, when the mourners come for you, they will tell your story, in your new character (not in the old). They will say, they miss you, and that, you are “survived by a husband/wife and in-laws” (hey, wait a minute…perhaps, even children!). What’s that about your ultimate ending? You broke a new ground for your own destiny, re-wrote your own history by your own self, and enjoyed a brand-new ending!

Finally, on Life & Truth Today, say with me: I may never be able to undo my past bad-action but I will start today in a good and pleasant direction, 180 degrees from the past, and I will surely have a brand-new ending in the journey of my life!