Calling Arminians Pelagian or Semi-Pelagian is somewhat of a tradition within Calvinism. The Synod of Dort repeatedly did so, clearing the path for generations to come. I recently completed a study on John Owen’s book Death of Death in the Death of Christ, where he relates Arminians with Pelagians. Additionally, J. I. Packer calls Arminians Semi-Pelagian in his introduction to Death of Death in the Death of Christ. The charge that Arminians are either Pelagians or Semi-Pelagians is false. I intend to demonstrate this through 1) comparing the Canons of Orange to Arminius and 2) critiquing Packer’s argument.
Monthly Archives For June 2008
You, what you heard from the beginning, let it remain in you. If what you heard from the beginning would remain in you and you in the Son, you will remain in the Father. 25 And this is the promise which he himself promised to us, eternal life. 26 I wrote these things to you concerning those trying to deceive you. 27 And you, the anointing which you received from him, it remains in you and you do not have need that anyone would teach you, but as his anointing teaches you about all things and it is truth and it is not a lie, and as it taught you, remain in him.
Libertarian free will is the concept that men and angels have the ability to make real choices that have not been pre-determined by God. Arminians believe in free will, while Calvinists generally do not.
The Arminian belief in free will is rooted in our understanding of the goodness of God. We believe in free will not because we are interested in usurping God’s authority, but instead because we want to protect God’s character. We also recognize that free will comes directly from the hand of God. Man has free will because He is made in the image of God. To the extent that man can make any decision on his own, it’s only because God has given man that ability, because it pleases Him to do so.
The content of this post was authored by Ben Henshaw and is posted on his behalf.
The following post was first published at http://www.indeathorlife.org/. I decided to re-post it as it relates to the previous post regarding God’s Sovereignty and Man’s Free Will. A few minor revisions have been made.
Arminians have long pointed to Matthew 23:37 to respond to the Calvinist doctrines of determinism, limited atonement, and irresistible grace.
Calvinism teaches that Christ died only for the elect (particular atonement), that he has decreed whatsoever shall come to pass in human history (determinism- no human free will as pertains to true contingencies), and that man has nothing to do with his own salvation (monergism), which necessitates their doctrine of irresistible grace.
My wife and I have a daily reading of Scripture where we read through large sections of the Bible at once, to get the bigger pictures in Scripture, and cover the full ground of Scripture as often as possible. (This is not our only devotional time). Last week, we read Ephesians in one sitting. During the second chapter, I started to cry. Not balling, more just tearing up. My wife looked up at me and said, “To me, this is neat stuff. But it means so much more to you.”
She was right. So many make Ephesians out to be this herald of predestination; a triumph of Calvinism. But such a reading loses the very message that Paul is communicating, the very thing that brought me to tears.
The word of God commands people to submit and surrender their wills to the will of God. This is inherent in the nature of sacrifice. Paul tells us to offer ourselves to God as a living sacrifice. What does this mean?
My Pastor used to put it this way, “When our will comes in conflict with God’s will, our will dies.”
We can see a vivid illustration of this in the garden of Gethsemane where Christ says, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” Here Christ surrendered His will to the will of the Father. This directly correlates to the cross and the impending sacrifice He would make there.
Do you sometimes struggle with regrets? I certainly do.
Part of the glory of Christianity is the forgiveness we have in Christ Jesus. We should never cease to rejoice in the fact that the blood of Christ has cleansed us from the stain of past sins (2 Pet. 1:9). This forgiveness does not, however, always alleviate consequences from the poor decisions we made prior to trusting in Christ, nor does it always relieve us of the consequences of sinful decisions that we make after conversion.
David is a stunning example. God forgave David for his sin with Bathsheba, and against Uriah, but he still had to suffer tremendous consequences for that sin. His child died, and his son, Absalom, rose up against him, and was killed as a result (2 Sam. 12; 15-18). I would bet that David had regrets. He suffered the scars of his decisions for the rest of his life. Sin is devastating and regrets can be crippling.
Jack Cottrell, “Sovereignty and Free Will”
I did not write to you that you do not know the truth but that you know it and that all lying is not from the truth. 22 Who is the liar if not the one who renounces that Jesus is not the Christ? Such a man is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. 23 All who deny the Son do not have the Father, the one who confesses the Son also has the Father.
I think it is interesting here that John goes out of his way to state that all lying is not from the truth, the truth being, of course, Jesus the Christ. Thus, by stating something as true that is not, one shows how Jesus is NOT living in them. Lying is the opposite of being a Christian.
One thing I’ve often noticed when speaking with Calvinists is that they seem to uphold an understanding of themselves as credible deliberators between Arminianism and Calvinism, especially when it comes to sharing their theology with someone who does not know it. These Calvinists, in particular, will say things like “I used to be an Arminian once, so I know both sides of the issue. I struggled with accepting the truth of the doctrines of grace too!” To them, this statement is in fact an argument for their own credibility in weighing out the exegesis and reasoning of both perspectives. This also gives the Calvinist the emotional impression that since Calvinism was their newly “changed” view, that a change of perspectives somehow makes their “reformed” view the most latest and corrected one–a realization of truth that other evangelicals (aka “Arminians”) are unfortunately still stuck behind in discovering.
My dormmate at college was reminded of a statement that one of his professors made in class. He stated the fact that, at times, we miss out on a lot in our experience with God by nitpicking over this or that word in a passage of Scripture, its tense and biblical usage. In a phrase: we miss the beauty of the forest on account of the trees. He is right.
However, I am also of the conviction that we miss out on a lot in our experience with God by a neglect over careful and thoughtful study of the doctrines of our faith. And, as what has been demonstrated by the ongoing and never-ending debate between Calvinism and Arminianism, doctrine (theology) matters tremendously. I think this is so because our theology expresses who we are as individuals. And when our theology is challenged, we all tend to take it very personally; that is because I am right: our theology expresses who we are as individuals (how we think and conduct ourselves, what we believe about God, man, salvation, etc.).
Thus far this week (see: http://classicalarminianism.blogspot.com/2008/06/turretinfan-on-gods-nature.html) we have been dealing with the Calvinistic view of an absolutistic God, and contrasting that with an Arminian understanding of a God who is, as we believe the Bible reveals, personal. We believe that this personal view better represents the character and nature of God as revealed in Scripture.
We are not saying that God could not rule His creation in absolutistic ways. He could, but, we believe, He has chosen not to do so. We have also being vying for love being one of God’s attributes, part of His very nature (such as omnipresence, omnipotence, omniscience, holiness, justice, etc.). We do not believe that God’s love springs forth from any of the other attributes, but is part of His very nature (1 John 4.8).
The term “Semi-Pelagian” is often bandied about by laymen as summary term that is descriptive of those persons who follow in the Arminian and Wesleyan theological traditions. AA. Hodge defined the term, stating:
- Semi-Pelagianism admits that divine grace is necessary to enable a sinner to return unto God and live, yet holds that, from the nature of the human will, man may first spontaneously, of himself, desire and attempt to choose and obey God. They deny the necessity of prevenient but admit the necessity of cooperative grace and conceive regeneration as the product of this cooperative grace (Regeneration, A.A. Hodge)
Calvinist Theologians Robert Peterson and Michael Williams, addressing the contemporary practice of labeling Arminian and Wesleyan theology Semi-Pelagian, write:
The content of this post was authored by J.C. Thibodaux and is posted on his behalf.
I came across a writing some time back by Pastor Greg Elmquist called, ‘Four Unanswerable Questions,’ which I’ve seen copied and pasted by Calvinists on forums as evidence that the doctrines espoused in Arminianism could not possibly be true. I decided to examine each of these supposed unsolvable Calvinist conundrums for myself and find out if there was a scriptural and logical answer to them. I’ll be going over his essay, which will be in italics, and my thoughts and commentary will be in normal type.
Greg starts out,
“There are four lies being told in Orlando today.”
I’ve been to Orlando, I’m pretty sure I counted more than that; but Greg is about to add a few more to the list.
“Modern, man-centered, Christ dethroning religionist would have us believe…”
It is not within our capacity to say anything about God beyond what he has revealed to us. Sometimes it is best to step away from our presuppositions that we proof-text with the Bible and read the Bible in such a way as to let it speak for itself:
- For in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die (Gen. 2:17).
Some Calvinists have argued that the frequent references to the wandering Israelites in the desert suggest that the writer of Hebrews is not addressing apostasy from true faith. It is assumed that the wandering generation…
This is an excerpt from Basic Theology by Charles Ryrie, and has been taken from http://www.bible-reading.com/atone.html#extent
Please note that Ryrie is not really an Arminian, but we make the article available because it argues for an unlimited atonement.
THE EXTENT OF THE ATONEMENT
From Basic Theology by Charles Ryrie
I. THE QUESTION
Little children, it is the last hour, and as you heard that an antichrist is coming, and even now many antichrists are here, because of this we know it is the last hour. 19 They went from us but were not from us; for if they were from us, they would have remained with us; but in order that they would be shown that all are not from us. 20 And you have an anointing from the Holy and you know all.
The last hour denotes the time after the death and resurrection of Christ (note the importance of “hour” in John), a time that includes the church age and ends with the second coming. The address of little children continues the differentiation between the level of authority of the author (John) and the reader.
The New Perspective on Paul is a development that has taken place over the last few decades in biblical studies, regarding the background and context against which the New Testament, and the writings of the Apostle Paul in particular, should be interpreted. It has become recently controversial, but is mostly attacked on the grounds of the implications it may have for Reformed doctrine, not on the soundness of the biblical scholarship that created it. Most biblical scholars acknowledge the legitimacy of at least some aspects of the New Perspective, and even a modest acceptance of the New Perspective can illuminate why the doctrine of Luther, Calvin, and the Reformers took the shape that it did.
“Because the members of the regular provincial Synods could not be long absent from their respective congregations, such galloping commissions as these, endowed with ample powers, were appointed to traverse every province in which Arminianism had been planted; and they soon showed to the world the most compendious [a brief expression] method of rooting out reputed Heresies.
“Their track through the land resembled that of the Angel of destruction; it was marked by anguish, mourning, and desolation. Nor did the evil consequences of these unparalleled Calvinistic practices terminate with that generation; for their pernicious example served as a precedent to their brethren in England.