Arminian or Semi-Pelagian

Discussion in 'Calvinism/Arminianism Debate' started by Reformed, Aug 7, 2014.

  1. Reformed

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    When debates rage between Monergists and Synergists the terms 'Calvinist' and 'Arminian' are most often used to describe the two sides. There are some Monergists and Synergists who reject labels, but labels are not about to vanish from the debate.

    For the purpose of this discussion I will accept the fact that, as a Monergist, the Calvinist label is accurate in the context of my view of soteriology. Sometimes Monergists have been described as Augustinians, but that moniker has never really gained mass appeal. Similarly, on the Synergist side, 'Arminian' is the label that is most frequently used to describe the 'free will in salvation' side of the debate. But is 'Arminian' an accurate term? Maybe and maybe not. The answer depends on what the individual believes.

    Arminianism has a cousin in the free will camp, it is called 'Semi-Pelagianism'. Both are Synergist doctrines, but they both have a major difference in their beginning proposition. Arminianism begins with the proposition that God makes the first move in salvation. Semi-Pelagianism proposes that man take the first step. Both systems teach that man cooperates with God in salvation; thus the designation 'Synergist'. So, if you are a Synergist, are you an Arminian or a Semi-Pelagian?

    If you believe that God first draws the sinner, and then leaves it up to the sinner to either accept or reject Christ, then you are an Arminian in your view of salvation.

    If you believe that man first reaches out to God, and then God responds, then you are a Semi-Pelagian in your view of salvation.

    Do you note the subtle difference?

    Pelagius was condemned as a heretic by the early church. He taught that individuals are born as 'blank slates' (tabula rasa), and are capable of sinless perfection* in this life; thus they become captains of their own ship in regards to a relationship with God. Pelagius' view of tabula rasa was eventually labeled a heresy by Pope Innocent I. But his theology had a lot of support during his time. It eventually morphed into what is now referred to as 'Semi-Pelagianism'. With Pelagius' 'blank slate' teaching supposedly abandoned, his view that man first reaches out to God remained.

    On the other hand is the belief that God makes the first move, but stops short of what Calvinists refer to as effectual grace (or the effectual call). This is modern day Arminianism. Arminianism begins with God wooing the sinner. At that time it is undetermined whether God's wooing of the sinner will result with the sinner accepting the Gospel message and trusting in Christ. The active agent in the Arminian system is the individual, since God will not violate the individual's free will. Arminianism has been called 'back door Semi-Pelagianism'.

    So, if you are a Synergist, which view of man's involvement in salvation best describes you? If you are the one who makes the first move (the Captain of the ship view), then you are a Semi-Pelagian. If you believe that God moves first and it is your responsibility to respond, then you are an Arminian.

    P.S. If you eschew labels then this thread probably isn't for you.

    *Pelagius taught that human beings are born with the ability to live sinless lives, and thus make forgiveness through Christ superfluous. To be fair he also believed the ability to do so was nearly impossible because the temptation to sin was almost overwhelming for the average person.
     
  2. Yeshua1

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    If one reads the works of John wesley, we find that many times, he sounds much more "calvinist" then many who look to him as a chamption of free will would espouse, as he did hold to depravity, the fall, and that the Holy spirit MUST affect the change in us to accept jesus, but where he agreed with arms and non cals was that God provided salvation for all, and sends grace to all to allow us to freely chose...
     
  3. evangelist6589

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    I believe in the effectual call as God grants faith and repentance to the elect whom will respond to God. However many disagree with me and I can do evangelism with them we should differ on this view. God can use a simple tract and a simple open air sermon to draw his elect.
     
  4. JonC

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    I had not thought of it before...but good observation. The distinctiveness can also be attributed from Arminianism originating from within Calvinism.
     
  5. Jordan Kurecki

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    According to this, I'm an Arminian.

    But I don't believe one can lose salvation.

    :)
     
  6. Reformed

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    Jordan, and that is OK. I am a Calvinist but I do not believe in infant baptism. Not every Arminian believes you can lose your salvation.
     
  7. convicted1

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    I find the sticking point to be God's availability to sinners. Arminians say one thing, Calvinists say another.
     
  8. convicted1

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    I heard that the last drought caused you to change your view on infant baptism...from immersion to wash rag...:D
     
  9. Reformed

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    From within Calvinism? More like a reaction against it.
     
    #9 Reformed, Aug 7, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 7, 2014
  10. JonC

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    James Arminius tried to correct what he saw as error within Calvinism....a group to which he belonged. What I mean is that Arminianism came from Calvinism...Pelagainism did not. In many ways, the Arminian has an outlook that agrees with Calvinism (e.g., the summary in the OP) because their theological system is closely related. Calvinism spelled out as TULIP was a reaction to Arminianism...affirming Calvinistic ideals that were in danger of being "reformed" by a sect of their own group.
     
    #10 JonC, Aug 7, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 7, 2014
  11. Reformed

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    OK. I was not sure what you meant by your earlier post. Yes. TULIP was a statement against the Remonstrants (those who took Arminius' teaching to next level stuff).

    I still would not say that Arminianism came from Calvinism. I believe it came out of a minority view of Reformation theology. I do concur with you that Pelagianism had no root in Calvinism, or the Reformation for that matter.

    We may have a level of agreement here. Calvinism and Arminianism are closer in some respects than Calvinism and Pelagianism, simply because both Calvinism and Arminianism start with God acting first.
     
  12. JonC

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    We are in agreement - I worded my post poorly. I don’t mean that Arminianism is “from” Calvinism as a natural offshoot…only that it was not an outside (outside of the Calvinistic church) alternative to Calvinism.

    Arminianism did not just come out of a minority view of Reformation theology, but more specifically it came out of a Calvinistic pastor (Arminius)who was a student of Beza, and pastor (Calvinistic) in Amsterdam with Beza’s recommendation. The controversy was not a break from Calvinism during Arminius’ lifetime…but was a split (a rather large split) within Calvinism. The Remonstrants took up where Arminius left off (‘ole James being dead and all).

    But it does appear to me that the Remonstrants theology is closer to a Calvinistic understanding than, and perhaps even unrecognizable from, what we call “Arminianism” today. (For example, that general denial of the depravity of man we see today would have been heresy to the seventeenth Remonstrant). Of course I suppose what we call Calvinism today would be heresy to Beza (actually...no "supposing" to it).
     
  13. Reformed

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    I think both Calvin and Beza would roll over in their graves to even contemplate Baptists being "Calvinists".
     
  14. Rippon

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    They certainly would not have conceived that there would be such a people known as Baptists --some of which --the Particular Baptists, would hold a great deal in common with them. They'd have to get their minds around the fact that Baptists are not Anabaptists. There were no Baptists in Calvin's time. In Beza's era they were just about to spring up. And here we go with Successionism!
     
  15. JonC

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    What is a bit ironic is that in the early seventeenth century, Arminians had more in common with Calvinists than the Particular Baptists would have. It is amazing how theology changes over time...sometimes throwing off error and growing towards a more biblical understanding...sometimes clinging to error to satisfy their own philosophies. "Calvinists" today benefit from lost luggage (baggage the Reformers carried into their theology, but which has since been tossed aside).

    As far as the OP is concerned...I think that Arminians are a minority of what we call Arminianism. But I wonder if the term has taken on a looser definition (like our contemporary use of "Calvinism").
     
  16. JamesL

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    This is similar to what I've been asserting in that other thread, that the Calvinist and Arminian agree with the idea that a man has to perform good works in order to enter the gates.

    Then trying to iron out how that can work in relation to Sola Fide. But there's another point of agreement they have. Both sides say that a man must choose Christ.

    I've been railed on for this claim before, and the Calvinist doesn't want to be associated with the Arminian on this point. But it is a fact.

    Is there a subtle difference? Of course. One says you must be regenerated first, the other says you don't have to be. But believing is still a matter of the will to both sides.

    And yes, Arminianism began as an effort to reform the Reformation. So there would be much agreement, just as there is much agreement between all the Reformers and Rome.
     
  17. Rippon

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    Particular Baptists were Calvinists --that's why they adopted the nomenclature. It refers to Particular Redemption.
     
  18. JonC

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    Yes... I apologize for my awkwardness...I was trying to make a distinction between Calvinistic soteriology (which applies to Particular Baptists...i.e., particular redemption...a belief I hold) and 17th Century Calvinism (which taken as a whole theological system, does not).
     
  19. Rippon

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    I'm trying to piece together your post and I'm not having any success.

    What's the 'distinction' between Calvinistic soteriology and 17th century Calvinism?
     
  20. Doubting Thomas

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    This has been a good thread--hasn't had much of the usual acrimony found in Cal/Arm debates.

    I agree with the distinction between semi-Pelagianism and Arminianism. As one who has carefully read Arminius's actual works on this issue, it is safe to say that he was NOT a semi-Pelagian (nor were the Wesleys).

    Both Calvinists and Arminians can generally affirm the teachings of the Second Council of Orange (AD 529) which affirmed the absolute necessity of prevenient grace in order for one to come to faith in Christ. The teachings of this synod (which also condemned the idea of predestination to damnation) basically defined the semi-Augustinian consensus that has prevailed in the Western Church since that time.

    Of course, at the Reformation, among different reformers there was varying emphasis on Augustinianism which lead to differences between Calvinists, Lutherans, and Arminians regarding grace/soteriology. However, none of the above believe a sinner can begin his conversion apart from God's gracious initiative.
     

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