Define Arminianism, Pelagianism, Semi-Pelagianism

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Marcia, Aug 21, 2008.

  1. Marcia

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    Since there is a thread "Do Arminians Agree?" it seems we should get a definition of Arminianism. Or is what Calvinists mean by it different than what it is? Or is it different today than what it used to be? Or is different than what Arminus (sp?) taught?

    So what is a good definition of Arminianism?

    While we're at, maybe we can include definitions for Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism (this latter term is tossed around as well).

    Please don't write an essay! :type:
     
  2. ReformedBaptist

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    What standard of definition are you looking for? Opinion or something substantial? (please take this the way its meant...are you looking for how people understand it, or something a bit more scholarly than that).
     
  3. Bro. James

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    This is a pretty good essay: www.withchrist.org then go to the bottom of page and type: armcalpaul

    It brings in Pelagius too. The teaching of sovereign grace of God, not man, predates all of these illustrious gentlemen.

    Selah,

    Bro. James
     
    #3 Bro. James, Aug 21, 2008
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  4. ReformedBaptist

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    [Semi-Pelagianism]
    While not denying the necessity of Grace for salvation, Semi-Pelagianism maintains that the first steps towards the Christian life are ordinarily taken by the human will and that Grace supervened only later.

    [Arminianism]
    In contrast to semi-pelagianism, Arminianism teaches that the first steps of grace are taken by God. This teaching derives from the Remonstrance of 1610, a codification of the teachings of Jacob Arminius (1559-1609). Here are the 3rd and 4th articles of five to show how close it actually approaches traditional Calvinism, but still leaves man with a small island of righteousness, as it affirms that unregenerate man can think spiritual thoughts, perceive the beauty and excellency of Christ, create affections for Him and thus turn in faith to Him, apart from the quickening of the Holy Spirit. They affirm that God's grace is always resistable, therefore, when one believe, it is not grace which makes one to differ from another, but naturally produced faith:

    III.That man has not saving grace of himself, nor of the working of his own free-will, inasmuch as in his state of apostasy and sin he can for himself and by himself think nothing that is good--nothing, that is, truly good, such as saving faith is, above all else. But that it is necessary that by God, in Christ and through his Holy Spirit he be born again and renewed in understanding, affections and will and in all his faculties, that he may be able to understand, think, will, and perform what is truly good, according to the Word of God [John 15:5].

    IV.That this grace of God is the beginning, the progress and the end of all good; so that even the regenerate man can neither think, will nor effect any good, nor withstand any temptation to evil, without grace precedent (or prevenient), awakening, following and co-operating. So that all good deeds and all movements towards good that can be conceived in through must be ascribed to the grace of God in Christ. But with respect to the mode of operation, grace is not irresistible; for it is written of many that they resisted the Holy Spirit [Acts 7 and elsewhere passim].
    http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/Arm_Semi_Differences.html
     
  5. Marcia

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    I think something that is layman-friendly would be best, although I am not averse to a scholarly view. I would prefer someone write it out rather than give links and website.

    Maybe a concise definition that shows the core belief of each if possible? I realize it's more complex than that. After we get succinct definitions, then maybe people can add to that.

    I know people may disagree on what these terms are but since they are used quite a lot on the BB, I thought it might be helpful to get some basic ideas of what these terms mean, or what people mean by them. I know I am interested to see definitions and views.
     
  6. Jarthur001

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    Many types of Arminians, so I will give the classic type that came from the man himself.


    **********
    1)
    A Classic Arminian holds to original sin and the same level of human depravity as a Calvinist.

    **********

    2) Election is as follows...
    Christ is the only hope as Saviour of sinful man.

    God decreed to save those who repent and believe on Christ as Saviour.

    God also decreed that those that reject Christ and die without repenting of their sins and not placing their faith in Christ are dammed to hell.

    God based who he will save (or damn) on foreknowledge of who would (or would not) believe.
    ***********

    3)
    God died for each person that has ever lived. Christ work on the cross saved no one, but rather made it possible for everyone.

    ************

    4)
    The most unique point of James Arminius was this point. All other views seen in this list have been seen before Arminius. Arminius gave a new twist to the debate. Arminius was the 1st to come up with this idea that once God reaches out to save a person, that person can say no. Man has a bigger will than God or God allows man to take control and overpower Gods purpose and desire to save all of mankind, which is who God died for under this schema. The power of salvation rest within mans hands.
    ***********

    5)

    Man may loss his salvation, but is up for more review.

    ***************

    Pelagianism

    Pelagianism says God would be unjust to pass Adams sin on to all men.

    So...Adam sins were not past to us, so man is not guilty till he sins.

    Man is neither good nor bad when he is born, but learns to be good or bad.

    Man is also able to come to God on his own apart from hearing the Gospel.

    **************

    Semi-pelagianism

    Semi-pelagianism is a broader group that Arminians fall under. Arminians are semi-pelagianist, but not all semi-pelagianist are Arminians. RCC is semi-pelagianist, but they are not Arminian. Semi-pelagianist believes man must do his part in salvation. Semi-pelagianist are not monergist.
     
    #6 Jarthur001, Aug 21, 2008
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  7. Marcia

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    Was Pelaginianism ever declared a heresy? I thought it was but can't recall for sure.
     
  8. russell55

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    Yes, Pelagianism has been condemned by more church councils than any other heresy.

    The Council of Orange declared Semi-Pelagianism, to be heretical, too.
     
    #8 russell55, Aug 21, 2008
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  9. JDale

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    RB:

    How in the WORLD do you get from these articles that Arminianism "man still has an island of righteousness, as it affirms that unregenerate man can think spiritual thoughts, perceive the beauty and excellency of Christ, create affections for Him and thus turn in faith to Him, apart from the quickening of the Holy Spirit."

    Either you are attempting to be disingenuous or your are completely blinded by your bias against Arminianism! PLEASE, read again these portions of the Remonstrance Articles III & IV: "That man has not saving grace of himself, nor of the working of his own free-will, inasmuch as in his state of apostasy and sin he can for himself and by himself think nothing that is good--nothing, that is, truly good, such as saving faith is, above all else. But that it is necessary that by God, in Christ and through his Holy Spirit he be born again.... That this grace of God is the beginning, the progress and the end of all good; so that even the regenerate man can neither think, will nor effect any good, nor withstand any temptation to evil, without grace precedent (or prevenient), awakening, following and co-operating. So that all good deeds and all movements towards good that can be conceived in through must be ascribed to the grace of God in Christ.

    The ONLY difference Reformation Arminianism has with Calvinism in this aspect is that Arminians believe God's Grace is "prevenient," going before to ENABLE men to believe -- but leaving that choice with man's "FREED WILL," whereas Calvinists believe that it is Effectual Grace which cannot be resisted and will, because God has decreed it so, force that one on whom it works to "believe."

    Arminians DO NOT believe men still have a "small island of righteousness" nor that he is able "to think positively of God, Christ, generate affection for, etc..." No! It is God's grace that ENABLES faith (HIS gift), it is God's grace that regenerates, it is God's grace from beginning to end!

    PLEASE don't misrepresent Arminians (at least Reformation Arminians) in this way -- it's hardly fair to Arminius OR to those who affirm his ideas and concepts as Scripturally valid and correct.

    Thanks,

    JDale
     
    #9 JDale, Aug 21, 2008
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  10. JDale

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    JA:

    This is a misportrayal of Arminius' teaching.

    How is it possible that man's will can frustrate God? Does anything man does surprise God? God foreknows who will believe and who won't. He's not shocked when someone rejects Him. Though one rejects God, God's ultimate plan remains intact. The "power of salvation" does NOT rest in mans hands. Gaining entrance to His Kingdom, His Salvation, has only one God-ordained condition -- faith (Romans 9:31-33).

    However, if you believe this to be true about Arminianism, then you must affirm that Arminians are heretics, no? I certainly hope not!

    JDale
     
  11. Allan

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    For each system of theology there is a core aspect that defines each view.
    Regarding the Pelagian view and it's modified version Semi-Pelagian.

    The core of Pelagianism is that man has libertarian free-will (no restraint, able to do whatever it so chooses). Libertarian Free-Will is the core or foundation in both Pelegainism and in the Semi-Pelagianism views. BOTH of which assert that man can choose to come to God WITHOUT ANY ASSISTANCE FROM GOD AT THE OUTSET or from the beginning.

    The Semi-Pelagian view only slightly differs from the Pelagian view in that once man has determined (without ANY influence from God) to come, it is only then He realizes He is inadaquate to make it and therefore God rewards the man for his determining to come with grace that the man might now achieve salvation.

    Both the Pel and Semi-Pel have two main theological themes that can not be divorced from their theological paradiams.
    1. Man comes to God unaided and without ANY influence of or from God at the first.
    2. Salvation and grace are rewards for mans effort.

    Historical (Reformed) Arminianism has it's own core view that is different and distint from Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism. In the historical Arminian view, is specific on the point that God must first initiate (because no man seeks after God of his own) but also that God must enable man to the extent and intent of man being allowed to either recieve or reject God's salvation by grace (prevenient grace). The distinct seperation of it from the Pel's is the fact that man does not come to nor seek out God first but that the only way man would even know or desire toward God is that God seek out man first and enable him to respond.

    However what seperates this theological system from Calvinism is that the will of man no set free becomes libertarian (in a sense) in that man can now choose by the power of his own will to continue as a child of God or not. This is a central theme that has moved it from it's roots to that of Wesleyian and further to that of the health, wealth, prosperity and Word of Faith aspects. Please remember that anyone can take anything and distort it.


    These differ from the Non-Cal view and the Cal veiws primarily because of the freedom given the will. Pel and semi-Pel is libertarian or free to do what you want and God must keep up. Arminian is a limited freedom at first but that it is set free from it's bondage to that of being libertarian after salvation. The non-Cal position adhears to a limited freedom of man's will both before and after.


    In light of the above it is incorrect to ascribe to the Historical Arminian a Pelagian or Semi-Pelaian point of view. We take specific note that their are core aspects that underpin a theological view and those of of the Pel's do not relate to those of the Historical Arminian.

    IMO -
     
    #11 Allan, Aug 22, 2008
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  12. Marcia

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    This has been helpful because one thing that has bothered me on the BB is that some people have called non-Calvinists semi-pelagians, which is basically calling them a heretic, it if it true that semi-pelagianism was declared a heresy. Or they have said that Arminians are semi-pelagians.

    That's why I am trying to get the distinctions drawn, so doing this in the future (calling non-Calvinist positions pelagian or semi-pelagian) can be avoided, hopefully.
     
  13. Jarthur001

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    Hello Jdale,

    You underlined, more then I think you meant to underline.

    "Arminius was the 1st to come up with this idea that once God reaches out to save a person, that person can say no."

    Now the rest that you underlined I can understand you may not agree with.

    Let me ask you this relating to what I typed and you did not like.

    If I want to do something I do it, but I'm not God. I do it unless something stops me for doing it. Does God want to save everyone? Must free-willers and Arminians alike will answer yes.

    What stops God from saving a person?
     
  14. Rippon

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    Arminianism does indeed = Semi-Pelagianism.

    Semi-Pelagianism is called that for a reason.It's not the mid-point between Pelagianism and Calvinism;otherwise it would be called Semi-Calvinism ( and we know there is no such being).Arminianism has characteristics of Pelagianism in its system.Arminianism is not full-fledged Pelagianism but it tends to that serious departure from orthodoxy.The Synod of Dort pronounced Arminianism as heresy.I think that's too strong;but as I said -- the Arminian system is not biblical theology.It truncates the gospel and weakens the witness of Scripture on serious biblical issues;especially in the area of soteriology.
     
  15. Reformer

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    A brief and insufficient definition of the three


    Pelagianism:
    Denies original sin and elevates natural and moral human ability to live spiritually fulfilled lives apart from the grace of God, but does consider it helpful

    Semi-Pelagianism:
    Has a modified version of original sin but believes that humans have the ability, even in a natural and fallen state, to initiate salvation by exercising a good will toward God

    Arminianism:
    Affirms the prevenience of grace to every human exercise of a good will toward God, including nonresistance to the saving work of Christ and therefor teaches that God has given humans free will, and humans are able to freely choose or reject salvation.

    On a personal note, in my opinion any theology that is not MONERGISTIC is heresy!!
    Synergism = Heresy


    If you are having trouble understanding Arminianism, let me suggest the book "Arminian Theology" by Roger Olsen. It answered a lot of questions for me. and also raised a lot to. I will he is an Arminian.

    Reformer
     
  16. Reformer

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    I may be wrong but I think he was run out of Rome because of his heretical views and wasn't heard from again. If I am wrong please correct me.

    And as already stated he has been declared a heretic by every council that reviewed his work. Calvinist and Arminians don't agree on much but they do (generally) agree that Pelagianism is damnable heresy
     
  17. Allan

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    It is none of the above. The reformers were wrong on many things theologically and their assuption of the Arminian view just followed that same course. Semi-Pelagianism's view that man can both initaite and come to God without any help or influence from God is the foundation view of that system of belief. It is for that reason it is called 'semi' Pelagian and that the only fundamental difference from true Pelagianism is its view that man then recognizes he can't make it to God (ie. save himself - unlike the Pelagian believes) and that God rewards man with the grace to come.

    Arminianism in no way, shape, form, or fashion to such a view. However the reformers made this incorrect characterization of the Arminian view and their followers have continued to regurgitate the same non-sense they did. Facts are facts and they were factually wrong on this and many other things.

    In order for a person to continue such a mischaracterization one must either be 'willfully' ignorant of the truth or else a blindly following men.

    The Synod of Dorks made quite a few mistakes regarding theology but this one was made not from facts but I believe from fear. They were afraid that more and more poeple would leave their ranks and their opinions of the bible so they declared pretty much everything not Calvinistic a heresy.

    Actually neither the Calvin or Arminian system is 'biblical' (as in perfect) because both have theological flaws. However, they are both on the same spiritual level so whatever one is the other naturally follows.
     
    #17 Allan, Aug 23, 2008
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  18. Allan

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    No, he was not 'run out' of Rome.

    He stayed there till Rome was sacked and then fled to Carthage where it is said he met up with Augustine in person. He was later said to be Palistine till he died.

    From Wiki:
    Most of the above info is from Wiki and it agrees with other sources I have read 'some what' concerning it.
     
    #18 Allan, Aug 23, 2008
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  19. Allan

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    He was not declared a heretic until much later after his death. Even Synod that met to hear his case never made the claim he was a heritic. However his "views" were considered heretical but only those contrary to established beliefs of the Church. Agian they did not condemn him as a heretic but instead affirmed him to be a believer but with incorrect views.
     
  20. Benjamin

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    I agree that it is incorrect to ascribe Historical Arminianism to Peliganism or Semi-Peliganism, but I do not agree with your ascriptions that Libertarian Free Will is the core foundation to Peliganism under your definition of it. Arminians hold to a different definition of LFW to flow with Prevenient Grace, and Peliganists may add to the meaning of that definition to ascribe to their view. But to lock LFW to mean Peliganism is pejorative dogma at best.

    The point is Arminians usually hold to LFW in a philosophical position of metaphysics with respect to free will and determinism, as a view that free will is incompatible with determinism. To go beyond that and declare that LFW associates the view of the holder to Peliganism is a false dichotomy.

    The only time I see LFW ascribed to mean Peliganism it is either willingly meant to be a slur, or a misrepresentation of the view by the reformed camp, hard determinist, or rarely even one that claims to ascribe to free will on the surface as a compatiblist but will fall back on determinism in their soteriological view as a matter of metaphysical necessity in a struggle over total depravity. But that is where the Arminian view of Prevenient Grace comes in.

    In short many believe determinism and free will are mutually exclusive and that determinism is fatalistic to a logical view of free will. They are incompatibalist and therefore Libertarians metaphysically, but again that does not equate to being Peliganism and it is a misrepresentation of the Arminian view of LFW to make that claim.

    IMO- Of couse, I said it...:smilewinkgrin:
     
    #20 Benjamin, Aug 23, 2008
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