Arminianism and Semi-Pelagianism:Soteriologically Similar

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Lux et veritas, Aug 25, 2009.

  1. Lux et veritas

    Lux et veritas
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    In another thread a strong debate has come forward over the issue of Arminianism and Semi-pelagianism. Are they similar (not the same, but similar), or are they drastically different.

    Reformed theology views them as more similar than different. Arminians, out of necessity to distance themselves from what is generally seen by both sides of the debate as outright heresy (Pelagianism and its daughter, semi-pelagianism), strenuously defend themselves as being nothing like the semi-pelagians.

    Here are the basic differences:
    Pelagianism - man can come to God by himself, needing no assistance from God.
    Semi-Pelagianism - man can only come to God with the assistance of God, but man is the primary mover (first cause) in this.
    Arminianism - man can only come to God with the assistance of God, but God is the primary mover (first cause) in this.
    Reformed Theology / Calvinism - man has no ability within himself to come to God, and God must originate and complete the work.

    Notice the similarities / differences between S-P and Arminianism. Though they view how the work is accomplished differently, they both teach a synergistic approach to salvation - man and God cooperating. Arminianianism is not totally distinct from its S-P roots. And while it attempts to bridge the gap between Augustianism (Reformed Theology), and Pelagianism, it can only do so by following the same path as the semi-pelagian views held by those who tried it centuries before.

    In the spirit of fair and honest debate, I would like to hear from both 'sides' of this matter, and if you are quoting a work, please give references so everyone can check it up. Also, if a position is countered by another poster, it would be nice to see a counter-argument made, not ignored.

    If the Arminian-leaning contributors to this forum do not feel this brief definition of the 4 views is not acceptable, please explain why or why not.

    I look forward to reading what everyone has to say.
     
  2. Amy.G

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    I disagree with your definition of semipelagian.


    From Wikipedia
    Both of these heresies state that man can come to God unaided by the grace of God.




    This is exactly what Allan said in another thread that you disagreed with. He is right.


    (bolding mine)
     
    #2 Amy.G, Aug 25, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 25, 2009
  3. Darrenss1

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    Reformed Theology still needs to add to the picture that man comes to God once they are regenerated, that to me means man still responds to God and also that God is relying on "man" (shock horror) to preach the gospel to "draw out" the elect.

    Darren
     
  4. Lux et veritas

    Lux et veritas
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    I've read your post and still fail to see how what you said differs from what I posted as a brief description of s-p. I said,
    Semi-Pelagianism - man can only come to God with the assistance of God, but man is the primary mover (first cause) in this.

    Is that substantially different than what you have posted?
    In Semipelagian thought, man doesn’t have such an unrestrained capacity, but man and God could cooperate to a certain degree in this salvation effort: man can (unaided by grace) make the first move toward God...

    Both are stating the same basic concept, except mine was more succinct. Man cannot come to God apart from the assistance, but man starts the process (the primary mover). If I'm not understanding you correctly, please explain.
     
  5. Lux et veritas

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    I accept you do not agree with or like the Reformed view. What I was trying to show was the difference between the soteriology of the 4 main views, with particular emphasis on the similarities / differences of S-P and Armininianism.

    I suppose anyone who has read our posts knows that where we all stand on RT.:laugh:
     
  6. Darrenss1

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    This is how I view things between the lines. IF the gospel is preached to a multitude of say 5000 people, they ALL heard, my understanding of scripture is that ALL 5000 God will draw to believe, some will believe while others will continue to reject/rebel refusing to believe. What RT would say is those whom did not believe God had no intentions of saving or enabling them to believe and further more they were not regenerated and their wills are locked in that they can only further reject God. This to me is seriously questioning the power of God's Word and God's drawing/intevention from the preaching of His Word. The Holy Spirit is always at work where ever the gospel is preached/heard/read. I don't see any argument for regenerated/not regenerated, elect/non elect in that example as the fall guy to explain the reasons for those whom don't respond. God has given everyone the ability to believe/reject the gospel once they are given the gospel.

    Darren
     
  7. Lux et veritas

    Lux et veritas
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    I don't want to get this thread side-tracked, but I do have a question for you. How do you explain those verses where the Holy Spirit forbids the preaching of the gospel to a certain group? (Acts 16:6,7). Is God not 'electing' (choosing) some to hear and some to not hear the gospel? I do not ask this sarcastically, but seriously. I'd be interested in knowing your thoughts on this.

    .... and then back to the topic of the OP:thumbsup:
     
  8. Darrenss1

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    Acts 16:6 Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, -

    Its a matter of God taking an order to where He wants His name proclaimed first and which order to establish churches...etc As we seen that God eventually had the gospel preached throughout Asia establishing churches. Act 19:22, 26, 20:18.. 1 Cor 16:9...etc

    No problem. :saint:

    Darren
     
  9. Rippon

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    You said it's your "between the lines" view. Where in the Bible does it say any such thing that God will draw all when the Gospel is preached? Drawing, according to Scripture (John 6) is done by by the Father for some, not each and every.
     
  10. Darrenss1

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    Yes exactly. I'm applying what I read in scripture to an actual example.

    I have been through this. The Word of God preached has the power to bring sinners to salvation, or better understood, God uses the preaching of the testimony of Christ (the gospel) to lead lost sinners to faith in Christ. If you mean all that the Father gives to the Son will believe, I don't interpret that the way Calvinism does as I have previously stated. The Father gives believers to the Son, the Son raises up believers, simple as that. Again this is off topic, I think.

    Darren
     
    #10 Darrenss1, Aug 25, 2009
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  11. Allan

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    And here begins you problem. They were not correct in their assuption when they tried to saddle Arminianism with the label of Semi-Pel to try to make it somehow sinister to keep people and other cals away from it's teachings.

    Pure biased opinion with not one grain truth to it. They are not the same (as you stated) therefore can not be equated 'as the same' nor from the same 'root'.

    Historical Arminianism or Reformed Arminianism is similar to Calvinism, does that make them Calvinists?


    Ok.
    A very watered down version, here is a better one:
    Man can understand and seek after God without any influence from God (man being the first cause, as you say), but man in doing so realizes that he can not save himself apart from God's help. God rewards man for his efforts by giving his grace so as to be saved.

    Here man is not saved by grace through faith, but is in fact rewarded with salvation through grace for his efforts/works.

    I believe a better defintion is:
    Man cannot be righteous, understand God, or seek after God of or by himself. Therfore God is the initiator and thus the orginator (first cause) and is the mover/drawer, and revealer and also God alone must complete the work of salvation (God alone saves), which is by faith/belief willingly given by man.

    More on this aspect of Arminianisms soterology (actaully more of a comprehensive read) that is not from wiki; from 'answers.com'. What I give below is the comparison of Arminianism, Pelagainism, and simi-Pelagainism

    True in part. Even Calvinism believes that man must willingly believe 'in order to be' saved and that God will not and is not going to save man without his consent/faith. Therefore God's completion of 'the work' is based upon man's choice to believe.


    No, your definition is incorrect. Semi-pel is not God cooperating with man but is actaully God rewarding mans efforts. That is an entirely works based salvation.

    The fact is this - Both Arminianism and Calvinism soterology are basically the same with respect to immutable truths, but they just see the mechanics operating differently on certain things. They agree that - No man comes to faith apart from God's working and no man is saved by God apart from excersizing willing/freely his faith. Thus man is involved in the salvation process in both systems and in both systems man is not the reason for his own salvation. He can not save himself, nor does he trade his faith for salvation but in fact through faith believes God and cries out for God to be merciful and choose to save him by His grace.

    There is no 'roots' to speak of.

    A false assumption due to a flawed premise.

    Hope the above helps you somewhat brother :flower:
     
    #11 Allan, Aug 25, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 25, 2009
  12. Lux et veritas

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    Well then, let's try a fuller definition of the first 3 views. (taken from monergism.com. Underlining for emphasis is mine)

    What do the terms “Pelagianism,” “Semi-Pelagianism,” and “Arminianism” mean, and how do they relate to each other?


    The terms “Pelagianism,” “Semi-Pelagianism,” and “Arminianism” have in common that they all present a form of synergistic theology; that is, the beginning of man's salvation, in regeneration, is not accomplished by the sole and unilateral act of God, but is produced by God and man “working together,” in some sense. Each of these synergistic systems is in opposition to “Calvinism” or “Augustinianism,” which teaches that God sovereignly gives to each of his elect a new, living heart which cannot do otherwise than believe in Christ, and so be justified and eternally saved.

    Pelagianism, the first and most radical of these synergistic theologies, was expounded by a fourth-century British monk named Pelagius. Pelagius taught that man's nature was not affected by Adam's fall, but that all men are still free to choose good or evil, to obey God or disobey him. Men are not guilty by nature, but only become guilty when they choose to do that which is evil; and Adam's failure did not corrupt his offspring, it just gave them a bad example, which they could choose to follow or not to follow. Augustine, the Bishop of Hippo, was Pelagius' great adversary, and he taught that man is bound in sin according to the scriptures, and that God's commands do not imply man's moral ability to obey them. Pelagianism was officially condemned by the Church in AD 431, at the Council of Ephesus.

    “Semi-Pelagianism” is a Reformation-era term that came to designate a softer sort of Pelagianism that arose after the Council of Ephesus, in the sixth century. According to Semi-Pelagianism, man is not free to choose good or evil, but he is at least free to make the first move to God, to turn to him in faith, and so be given the power to choose good by God's grace. Man is not free to do good in his fallen nature, but he is at least able to believe and come to God in his own native strength. This softer variety of Pelagianism was officially condemned by the Church in 529, at the Council of Orange; however, the Reformers rightly recognized that the Roman church of the sixteenth century had become thoroughly Semi-Pelagian again.

    “Arminianism” refers to the teachings of Jacobus Arminius, and the five points of the Remonstrance which he headed. According to Arminius, man is not so depraved that he cannot naturally seek God; God's election of men is based on his foreseeing the faith they would come to in time; the atonement of Christ was intended for every person on earth, but whether it will actually be applied to anyone in particular rests upon his free decision to believe or not to believe; God's grace is sufficient to enable men to believe if they so choose, but does not necessitate faith; and after a man has come to a genuine saving faith in Christ, he is still free to turn aside and fall away from grace, and so be eternally lost. The Synod of Dort, in 1618-1619, officially condemned Arminianism, and upheld the so-called five points of Calvinism; however, there are many Protestant churches and denominations today that hold to an Arminian theology. Arminianism differs from Semi-Pelagianism in the former's teaching on prevenient grace: against Semi-Pelagianism, Arminianism usually teaches that man does not have the natural ability to believe; however, God extends his prevenient grace to all men without exception, giving them all the moral ability to choose to believe or not to believe. Whether or not any man is actually saved depends entirely on whether a person chooses to improve upon this prevenient grace, and believe in God.
    ************

    To recap. As a Calvinist I do not say that Arminianism = semi-pelgainism, but that on the major point - a synergistic mode of salvation - they are in substantial agreement.
     
  13. Allan

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    Problem #1. Calvinists do not determine what others believe and how, nor do they determine the definition or defining peraminters of anothers beliefs. Therefore Calvinists are not appointed nor designated to place people in their personal little preconceived boxes, which typically misrepresent those groups anyway.

    Problem #2. To assume that Calvinists are without error or flaw in speaking for others beliefs is to begin with a flawed premise.

    Problem #3. As noted in my posting previously it is only the 'Calvinistic or Reformed' group who makes such claims as the OP tries to do and when such an attempt is tried it always falls short of the truth when examined.

    Problem #4. Your sourse is completely wrong regarding Historical Arminianism with respect to man naturally seeking God, since it holds just as strongly to total depravity as Calvinism. Therefore to the Arminian as well, man can not and will not 'naturally' seek after God. Such a statement is ignorant of any historical data.

    Here are the 5 articles of the Remonstrance - notice 3, 4 and 5:
    As you can plainly see, he and you are both wrong in your assumption of what Arminianism teaches in that, like semi-pel, states that man can come naturally to God, which it obviously does not.

    Problem #5. Pelagainism and Semi-Pelagainism are a works based salvation in which God rewards man with salvation, not that they are working with God but are reward by God for their greatness. This is not synergism and to imply it is shows a great lack of understandiing at best.

    Problem #6. Calvinism and Arminianism agree that - No man comes to faith apart from God's working and no man is saved by God apart from excersizing willing/freely his faith. Thus man is involved in the salvation process in both systems and in both systems man is not the reason for his own salvation. He can not save himself, nor does he trade his faith for salvation but in fact through faith believes God and cries out for God to be merciful and choose to save him by His grace.

    If man had no involvment in his salvation then you would have monergism but the fact is even in Calvinism/Reformed theology man is involved (no matter how slight) and that his willing involvment is absolutely necessary in order for God to save him. Therefore, both are synergistic.
     
    #13 Allan, Aug 26, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 26, 2009
  14. Lux et veritas

    Lux et veritas
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    I only have a few minutes so cannot reply to all your comments right now.

    I agree. Every person / group must be free to express their views and beliefs in their own words. I have said repeatedly on this forum that in any debate, it is the duty of a differing view to be able to express their opponents' view in a way that they agree is a fair expression of what they believe.

    Many of the non-Calvinists on this forum are every bit as guilty of expressing a wrong view of Reformed Theology as the other way around.

    Having said that, when any group/individual whether political, religious or otherwise, has stated its view, it becomes at that moment open to examination by all and that necessarily includes things like the logical consequence(s) of holding to such beliefs. That is what you and others do with Calvinism. I am not "defining peraminters"(sic) at all. I am, with an open invitation to Arminians to do precisely what you have accepted and what is going on between us right now, making an assertion that based on their own statements, Arminianism is generally akin to semi-pelagianism. (BTW, I have never said they are identical in all respects, but similar)

    In the OP I clearly opened the door to a full, honest debate on the single issue of whether Arminianism is similar or not to semi-Pelagianism. To keep it from going off-track, I'm not 'defending' Reformed Theology, but admit that through years of study I have come to that perspective on Scripture.

    But regardless of the premise of Calvinism (whether it is flawed or not), the position raised in the OP still stands as a stand-alone, debatable issue. It would be irrational to think that that it would not be approached differently by those who believe differently.

    The reason the Calvinistic/Reformed group make these claims, is because we say there is no substantial difference between the two. One person owns a pure-bred German shepherd, another owns a mutt. A non dog-owner says they both own a dog. While the dog owners themselves are quick to point out the many differences between their pets, insisting that they are different, they are still both the same 'kind'. Arminian-minded people focus on all the differences between Arminianism and S-P, but they are still both of the same 'kind'. They both are synergistic, and the OP claims do not fall short of the truth as I hope to show later.

    I'm going to be away for awhile, but plan to come back to this later. I look forward to picking this up D.V.. Until then, God bless.
     
  15. Dale-c

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    This is a good thread, It would also be interesting to see more people aligned with some sort of historical position.

    I know people do not like names around here but I hope people see that if they can't line up with one of these positions then they would be implying that no significant number of Christians ever got it right for the first 1900+ years.
     
  16. webdog

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    Why? We are told to study to show ourselves approved, not align to any one systematic theology. I have no problem whatsoever eating the meat and spitting out the bones in ANY theological system.
     
  17. Lux et veritas

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    Due to my earnest desire to not get sidetracked on this thread from the OP, I'll make but one comment in response to yours. (I see there is another thread on this subject started so I'll post about it there).

    You are protesting the error/danger of aligning to "any one systematic theology" yet you have aligned yourself with one systematic theology ... namely yours! Every person has one. Labels are simply an aid to have an understanding of each other's views.

    Back to the discussion on the OP.:type:
     
  18. Allan

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    No prob :thumbs:

    Please understand that my post was not specifically about you, but was toward many Cals/Reformed in general and was my intent in 'Problems #1 and #2'.


    Agreed, and I do try to help them to understand their misconceptions on many reformed points even if I don't agree with them. The main issue comes, from both sides, when a person reads one groups thoughts about anothers beliefs and then believe everything they read without going back to the source to see if it is true. This type of study breeds ignorance and misunderstanding, but it is common because to often many hold such men/authors in to high a regard than they should be.

    True.
    As well as you and others, and there is nothing wrong in this.

    I did not say 'you' were defining them, I said Calvinists do so. Many of the 'catagories' that are out there are there because Calvinists created names for them and then defined what they thought those views taught so as to label people's beliefs and thus catagorize them into theological groups.

    This is not a bad thing so long as you properly understand their views and can relay them back in a manner that is acceptable to the one who believes it. The issue is typically that Cals/Reformed in general do 'not' convey the understanding of anothers beliefs properly and thus they are quite often accused of misrepresenting views and beliefs of other believers.

    That very assertion is proved incorrect by Arminians own statements. Therefore no such 'assertion' has any merit. There is no soterological similarities. As I showed in a previous post Arminianism is more kindred to Calvinism and shows no relationship with semi-pelagainism in it's soterological views.

    I am not asking you to defend Reformed thinking, my point was that many of the Reformed writers are wrong in their understanding of others beliefs and thus the catagorizing of Arminianism with or in close kinship to semi-pel is simply not substantiated in light of the facts. As I showed in my previous posting that the author of the quote you give does not understand Arminianism and thus gives 'his' rendition of their views as he sees them. I then posted the Arminians actaul beliefs to the author of your quote was indeed incorrect and thus his premise of Arminianism being similar to semi-pelagainism was a statement made from ignorance with respect to their views.

    Please reread what I said. It had nothing to do with the 'premise of calvinism' but the flawed premise is with respect to many Reformed writers as being without error in their understanding of others views.

    But there is a substantial difference. The main problem is that Calvinists assume their assumptions of what others believe is correct and that they have not err'ed in their understanding of it. Fact is, many times, they have. And if you start with a false premise you will end up with a false conclusion.

    Very true, but we are not talking about two of the same 'kind' but different 'kinds'.

    No, S-P are not synergistic.
    Pel and semi-pel are works based salvation in which man himself aquires salvation by God rewarding him for his efforts. If man is the first cause, then there is absolutely no kinship between this and Arminianism.

    Arminianism holds that God is the 'first cause', and also to total depravity.

    I look forward to it. :thumbs:
     
  19. webdog

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    I'm held accountable for what I believe, not for what someone else believes. My "systematic theology" is infallible (as yours), and I have changed my views on many things over time. That is an impossibility for a system that is already in place.
     
  20. Rippon

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    Congratulations! When did you reach that level of perfection?
     

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