What is an Arminian?

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by ScottEmerson, Apr 2, 2003.

  1. ScottEmerson

    ScottEmerson
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    Just so we can clarify...

    SEC

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    The Question, "What Is an Arminian?" Answered by a Lover of Free Grace
    by John Wesley


    To say, "This man is an Arminian," has the same effect on many hearers, as to say, "This is a mad dog." It puts them into a fright at once: They run away from him with all speed and diligence; and will hardly stop, unless it be to throw a stone at the dreadful and mischievous animal.

    The more unintelligible the word is, the better it answers the purpose. Those on whom it is fixed know not what to do: Not understanding what it means, they cannot tell what defence to make, or how to clear themselves from the charge. And it is not easy to remove the prejudice which others have imbibed, who know no more of it, than that it is "something very bad," if not "all that is bad!"

    To clear the meaning, therefore, of this ambiguous term, may be of use to many: To those who so freely pin this name upon others, that they may not say what they do not understand; to those that hear them, that they may be no longer abused by men saying they know not what; and to those upon whom the name is fixed, that they may know how to answer for themselves.

    It may be necessary to observe, First, that many confound Arminians with Arians. But this is entirely a different thing; the one has no resemblance to the other. An Arian is one who denies the Godhead of Christ; we scarce need say, the supreme, eternal Godhead; because there can be no God but the supreme, eternal God, unless we will make two Gods, a great God and a little one. Now, none have ever more firmly believed, or more strongly asserted, the Godhead of Christ, than many of the (so called) Arminians have done; yea, and do at this day. Arminianism therefore (whatever it be) is totally different from Arianism.

    The rise of the word was this: JAMES HARMENS, in Latin, Jacobes Arminius, was first one of the Ministers of Amsterdam, and afterwards Professor of Divinity at Leyden. He was educated at Geneva; but in the year 1591 began to doubt of the principles which he had till then received. And being more and more convinced that they were wrong, when he was vested with the Professorship, he publicly taught what he believed the truth, till, in the year 1609, he died in peace. But a few years after his death, some zealous men with the Prince of Orange at their head, furiously assaulted all that held what were called his opinions; and having procured them to be solemnly condemned, in the famous Synod of Dort, (not so numerous or learned, but full as impartial, as the Council or Synod of Trent,) some were put to death, some banished, some imprisoned for life, all turned out of their employments, and made incapable of holding any office, either in Church or State.

    The errors charged upon these (usually termed Arminians) by their opponents, are five: (1.) That they deny original sin; (2.) That they deny justification by faith; (3.) That they deny absolute predestination; (4.) That they deny the grace of God to be irresistible; and, (5.) That they affirm, a believer may fall from grace.

    With regard to the two first of these charges, they plead, Not Guilty. They are entirely false. No man that ever lived, not John Calvin himself, ever asserted either original sin, or justification by faith, in more strong, more clear and express terms, than Arminius has done. These two points, therefore, are to be set out of the question: In these both parties agree. In this respect, there is not a hair's breadth difference between Mr. Wesley and Mr. Whitefield.

    But there is an undeniable difference between the Calvinists and Arminians, with regard to the three other questions. Here they divide; the former believe absolute, the latter only conditional, predestination. The Calvinists hold, (1.) God has absolutely decreed, from all eternity, to save such and such persons, and no others; and that Christ died for these, and none else. The Arminians hold, God has decreed, from all eternity, touching all that have the written word, "He that believeth shall be saved: He that believeth not, shall be condemned:" And in order to this, "Christ died for all, all that were dead in trespasses and sins;" that is, for every child of Adam, since "in Adam all died."

    The Calvinists hold, Secondly, that the saving grace of God is absolutely irresistible; that no man is any more able to resist it, than to resist the stroke of lightning. The Arminians hold, that although there may be some moments wherein the grace of God acts irresistibly, yet, in general, any man may resist, and that to his eternal ruin, the grace whereby it was the will of God he should have been eternally saved.

    Away, then, with all ambiguity! Away with all expressions which only puzzle the cause! Let honest men speak out, and not play with hard words which they do not understand. And how can any man know what Arminius held, who has never read one page of his writings? Let no man bawl against Arminians, till he knows what the term means; and then he will know that Arminians and Calvinists are just upon a level. And Arminians have as much right to be angry at Calvinists, as Calvinists have to be angry at Arminians. John Calvin was a pious, learned, sensible man; and so was James Harmens. Many Calvinists are pious, learned, sensible men; and so are many Arminians. Only the former hold absolute predestination; the latter, conditional.

    One word more: Is it not the duty of every Arminian Preacher, First, never, in public or in private, to use the word Calvinist as a term of reproach; seeing it is neither better nor worse than calling names? -- a practice no more consistent with good sense or good manners, than it is with Christianity. Secondly. To do all that in him lies to prevent his hearers from doing it, by showing them the sin and folly of it? And is it not equally the duty of every Calvinist Preacher, First, never in public or in private, in preaching or in conversation, to use the word Arminian as a term of reproach? Secondly. To do all that in him lies to prevent his hearers from doing it, by showing them the sin and folly thereof; and that the more earnestly and diligently, if they have been accustomed so to do? perhaps encouraged therein by his own example!
     
  2. npetreley

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    Bzzt. The quote is: "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already" Big difference. It is the error in thinking that they "shall be condemned" that leads arminians into thinking calvinism is "unfair". If we were not condemned until we "chose" not to believe, then it would be unfair. But we were condemned already, and the unsaved are those who do not escape condemnation by believing.

    Huh? Sometimes it's irresistable and sometimes it's not?

    First, he misquotes scripture. Then he waffles on a key issue. So what he's saying, then, is "do as I say, not as I do"?
     
  3. ScottEmerson

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    My guess is that Wesley was quoting Mark 16:16 - not John 3:18. The rest of your argument falls based upon a wrong premise.

    Yes. Arminius talks about the instances in which it is and those in which it is not.

    I'll give you another chance to read it again. Don't be so quick to post next time!
     
  4. William C

    William C
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    My guess is that Wesley was quoting Mark 16:16 - not John 3:18. The rest of your argument falls based upon a wrong premise.

    Don't be so quick to post next time!
    </font>[/QUOTE][​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  5. Kiffin

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    Interesting subject. I believe there are 2 types of Arminians.

    1. Classical Arminians- Jacob Arminius, John Wesley, Anabaptists, General Baptists, Methodists, Assemblies of God.

    2. Karl Barth Style Arminians - common with most Evangelicals and Southern Baptists.

    House Church Central which seems to hold to Barth's view gives a comparison web page
     
  6. npetreley

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    Good point, I hadn't thought of that verse. I take back my claim that he was misquoting scripture.

    I still have one question, however. I haven't looked at the Greek for Mark 16:16, but I have to wonder if this is one of those cases where the Greek actually says "will have been" instead of "will be" (such as the more accurate translation "whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven").

    As for the "sometimes it is irresistable and sometimes not" I haven't read arminius OR calvin, so I rely on others here to relay what they mean by such things. Anyone here want to clarify those cases where it is irresistable and where it is not?
     
  7. ScottEmerson

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    Most Arminians wouldn't even think about doing that.

    Oh, and the tense of the word is future passive indicative, so "will be saved" is an accurate translation.

    I'll be back on Saturday to find this. I'm leaving for Atlanta to a Worship Leader's Conference at Northpoint Community Church in 10 minutes! See you all later!
     
  8. npetreley

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    I looked into the "will be" and "will have been" issue, and as far as I can tell, it's a wash and can be viewed either way. I'd be wary of hanging an entirely theology on this verse, anyway, for two reasons:

    1. "He who believes and is baptized will be saved" This is ambiguous at best, since most people believe that baptism is not a prerequisite for being saved, but an act of obedience. In its favor, perhaps it means baptized by the Holy Spirit.

    2. From the NIV: ((The most reliable early manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do not have Mark 16:9-20.))
     
  9. William C

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    As to the issue of Grace sometimes being resisted I suggest you read RC Sproul's book "Chosen By God." He explains this from the Calvinistic perspective and even changes the term "Irresistable Grace" to "Effectual Calling," because of this very issue. He teaches that grace is resisted all time because all good things are acts of God's grace. The difference here is the understanding of common grace verses saving Grace.

    I have found that the term "effecual calling" does have a more clear connotation in our debate of the issues.
     
  10. Frogman

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    Because Common Grace cannot be denied in any aspect?

    Bro. Dallas
     
  11. Harald

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    npetreley. As for Mark 16:16 it seems to me that the "shall be saved" (future tense indicative, passive) corresponds to "shall be damned" (or "judged"). The Greek word which some versions render "damn" literally is "judge", but contextually they have interpreted it as referring to the sentence of damnation. Thus I do not see it likely as "shall have been saved", which I believe is called future perfect. I don't know if the mode of the two aorist verbs make any crucial difference in interpretation. They are both participles, the verb for "to believe" is aorist active participle, the one for "to immerse" is similar, but passive in voice. Consequently it may be rendered

    "the one having believed and having been immersed"

    This reminds me of how some verbs are used in the Hebrew OT, an act which at the point of speaking has not yet occured is viewed as already certain. Someone more knowledgeable in Greek grammar might know better, but I believe it also possible to render as "the one believing and being immersed", in which case the action is viewed as either future or as an any-moment-in-time occurence. I would opt for the "having believed etc."

    Lord Jesus Christ spoke these words to His apostles as they were about to go forth to fulfill the Great Commission so called. It was kind of a promise that the preaching of the Gospel of theirs would not go unsuccessful, that people would believe and receive immersion, and those of their hearers who did these two would be finally saved. I believe the two acts of believing (the Gospel) and receiving immersion spoken of here were not conditions for "shall be saved", but they were evidences of salvation in Christ crucified, and such people having been saved by the grace of Christ should also be finally saved, just as Jesus promised in many instances to His followers, e.g. John chapter 6. The thing which most interpret as the reason for "shall be damned" is "having not believed". Why does Christ not list "not having been immersed" with it? I believe a reason may be because receiving immersion is not any special evidence of salvation. Anyone can receive water baptism, but only those who are indwelt of the Spirit of Christ can do the "having believed" as the Scripture defines saving faith so called.

    If one should take 10 members from a true Gospel assembly of Christ, 5 of them genuine Christians, 5 spurious converts. All ten who belong to this true church of Christ have received a technically right and valid Gospel baptism, because it has been given them by authority of a true church and specifically by a male minister of theirs. If such true and valid baptism was the evidence of salvation then all 10 must be regarded as true converts. But water baptism is not a special evidence of true faith in the heart. The thing which evidences which of the 10 are true converts is their faith. A false convert cannot manifest true fruit of genuine faith on a continual basis.
    Water baptism is a one time act, but initial saving faith does not stop there, but perseveres, and evidences a genuine believing in the true Gospel to those who are exercised to discern good from evil.


    If the "having been immersed" here is baptism in the Holy Spirit... It is not impossible, but I think it unlikely right now. The apostles would not know about their hearers experiencing Holy Spirit baptism except for seeing "the one believing", witnessing a genuine Gospel faith in a hearer.

    Lastly I would just state that I believe "having disbelieved" is not the cause of "shall be damned", as most apparently believe who profess Christ. "Having not believed", i.e. a continuous state of unbelief as respects the Gospel and the doctrine of Christ upon having been encountered with it is evidence of condemnation not having been removed, and where condemnation is not removed a person will be finally judged, damned. The ground of condemnation according to Paul is Adam's sin imputed, not "rejecting the Gospel". Rejection of the Gospel until the point of death does not cause a person to be damned, but evidences condemnation unremitted, evidences that God has not elected and redeemed a person.

    The reason for final sentence to perdition, damnation, is sin on one's account which has not been atoned for.

    Harald
     
  12. Eric B

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    John 3:18 adds "...because he has not believe on the name of the only begotten Son of God". The two passages are saying the same thing of course, so people are ultimately condemned for their refusal to believe, not because of some sin charged to them from Adam. That got us born into a state where we commit sin and are thus "condemned already", but it itself is not what God condemns for.

    As for the baptism question, I posted a treatise on that, in relation to salvation and comparison with the much maligned altar call here (middle of page): http://www.baptistboard.com/ubb/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=35;t=000682;p=2
     
  13. npetreley

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    I agree that we are born into this state, and that is why I said what I did about the phrasing. When one says "will be damned" it sounds as if we all start out in a neutral state. That makes the difference between arminianism and calvinism come down to whether God chooses to "damn" some people or those people choose to damn themselves.

    This is a false premise - stated or implied - and it is one arminians often use to build their case against calvinism.
     
  14. William C

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    I agree that we are born into this state, and that is why I said what I did about the phrasing. When one says "will be damned" it sounds as if we all start out in a neutral state. That makes the difference between arminianism and calvinism come down to whether God chooses to "damn" some people or those people choose to damn themselves.

    This is a false premise - stated or implied - and it is one arminians often use to build their case against calvinism.
    </font>[/QUOTE]That is a straw man Nick. Arminians, for the most part, don't believe that man is born "neutral." I and many others on this board have clearly stated that we believe man is born with the sin nature and guilty as an object of wrath. That does not; however, require us to believe in Total Depravity as taught by Calvinists. It is clear in Roman 1 and elsewhere that man becomes depraved over a period of time, he is not born that way.

    So, just because a man may be born with the nature to sin due to the imputed sin nature of Adam, does not mean that a man is born totally unable to respond to God's chosen methods of intervention in the lives of his creation. To assume so is absurd and no conclusive scriptural evidence shows otherwise.
     
  15. KenH

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    Well...if the formal debate thing ever gets off the ground we'll see if it is absurd and if there is no conclusive Scriptural evidence. [​IMG]

    Your humble servant,

    Ken the Spurgeonite
     
  16. Ray Berrian

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    Eric B,

    I read your post about John 3:18. A person sure does not need an understanding of the original languages of the Bible to understand that a refusal of Christ is only what will keep sinners out of Heaven and away from His Presence above. This has nothing to to do with Calvin or Wesley. Let God's Word speak and we have a responsibility to listen to it as He had it written down in holy writ.

    I will check out the material in the second paragraph. Altar call . . . etc.

    Good job!
     
  17. Ray Berrian

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    What Is An Arminian?

    A person who has an Arminian view of Biblical interpretation believes in these Five Points.

    I. Prevenient Grace
    II. Election Conditioned By Faith
    III. Unlimited Atonement
    IV. Resistible Grace
    V. The Possibility of Falling From Grace

    Prevenient Grace teaches that God goes before the sinner making that person to be aware of their need to received Christ. [John 16:8] Note that He reproves the world and not the church of their sin . . . . and coming final judgment. God ministers His calling of the Spirit before salvation, called prevenient grace, to all people to offset the effects of inherited depravity, thereby making the lost capable of cooperating with God in salvation. [John 16:8]

    Election Conditioned by Faith teaches that those who receive Christ [John 1:12] are elected into the family of God. [I Peter 1:2]

    Unlimited Atonement teaches that Christ died on the Cross for every human being who will ever be born of a woman. [I John 2:2] This is also the testimony of John the Baptist. [John 1:29]

    Resistible Grace teaches that even after the Holy Spirit has convicted and convinced sinners of their need of salvation, they can reject the gracious offer of Jesus forgiveness. [John 5:40; Acts 7:51]

    The Possibility of Falling From Grace teaches that even someone who is genuinely saved can become apostate and turn totally away from the Lord. [Hebrews 6:1-8; Hebrews 10:26-31]

    It is my understanding that James Arminius never really said that it was feasible to fall from grace, but some Christians today say that this is a viable possibility.
     
  18. rsr

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    At least someone had the decency to quote John Wesely, who, IMO, is the greatest Arminian theologian of all time.

    In case anyone really wnats to kno what Arminius had to say:

    Writings of Arminius

    But Wesley is much more readable.

    [ April 03, 2003, 12:29 PM: Message edited by: rsr ]
     
  19. Ray Berrian

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    What Is An Arminian?

    A person who has an Arminian view of Biblical interpretation believes in these Five Points.

    I. Prevenient Grace
    II. Election Conditioned By Faith
    III. Unlimited Atonement
    IV. Resistible Grace
    V. The Possibility of Falling From Grace

    Prevenient Grace teaches that God goes before the sinner making that person to be aware of their need to received Christ. [John 16:8] Note that He reproves the world and not the church of their sin . . . . and coming final judgment. God ministers His calling of the Spirit before salvation, called prevenient grace, to all people to offset the effects of inherited depravity, thereby making the lost capable of cooperating with God in salvation. [John 16:8]

    Election Conditioned by Faith teaches that those who receive Christ [John 1:12] are elected into the family of God. [I Peter 1:2]

    Unlimited Atonement teaches that Christ died on the Cross for every human being who will ever be born of a woman. [I John 2:2] This is also the testimony of John the Baptist. [John 1:29]

    Resistible Grace teaches that even after the Holy Spirit has convicted and convinced sinners of their need of salvation, they can reject the gracious offer of Jesus forgiveness. [John 5:40; Acts 7:51]

    The Possibility of Falling From Grace teaches that even someone who is genuinely saved can become apostate and turn totally away from the Lord. [Hebrews 6:1-8; Hebrews 10:26-31]

    It is my understanding that James Arminius never really said that it was feasible to fall from grace, but some Christians today say that this is a real possibility.
     
  20. Eric B

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    This comes from damnation having a present and future aspect. In the present, it is the state man is in. It is also used as the future act of God actually casting men into Hell, so in that case they "will be damned". So it is only neutral in the sense that none of us are in Heaven or Hell yet.
     

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