Arminius and Junius Show Us How To Debate
submitted by SEA member, Roy Ingle
I was struck by how graceful both Arminius and Francis Junius were toward one another in their correspondence over the issue of predestination. I have printed their opening statements toward one another below. Oh that Arminians and Calvinists today could be as graceful toward one another as these brothers were toward one another. Our debate is in-house (Galatians 3:26-29) and we are all justified before God because of the work of Christ and not because of Arminius or Calvin. As we keep that in mind, theological debates will be graceful, loving, peaceful, and seeking to learn from each other in areas where we may be weak. I confess that I learn much from my Calvinist brothers and sisters. They are precious to me.
TO THE MOST DISTINGUISHED MAN, FRANCIS JUNIUS, D.D., A BROTHER IN CHRIST, WORTHY OF MY MOST PROFOUND REGARD, JAMES ARMINIUS WISHES YOU HEALTH.
MOST DISTINGUISHED AND VENERATED SIR:
They who do not give their assent to the sentiments of others, seem to themselves, and wish to seem to others, to be, in this, under the influence of sound judgment; but sometimes, ignorance of the sentiments of others is the cause of this, which, nevertheless, they by no means acknowledge. I have not hitherto been able to agree, in the full persuasion of my mind, with the views of some learned men, both of our own and of former ages, concerning the decrees of predestination and of reprobation.
Consciousness of my own lack of talents does not permit me to ascribe the cause of this disagreement to sound judgment: that I should ascribe it to ignorance is hardly allowed by my own opinion, which seems to me to be based on an adequate knowledge of their sentiments. On this account I have been till this time in doubt; fearing to assent to an opinion of another, without a full persuasion in my own mind; and not daring to affirm that which I consider more true, but not in accordance with the sentiments of most learned men. I have, therefore, thought it necessary for the tranquillity of my mind, to confer with learned men concerning that decree, that I might try whether their erudite labours might be able to remove my doubt and ignorance, and produce in my mind knowledge and certainty. I have already done this with some of my brethren; and with others, whose opinions have authority, but thus far, (to confess the truth,) with a result useless, or even injurious to me. I thought that I must have recourse to you, who, partly from your published works, and partly from the statements of others, I know to be a person such that I may, without fear, be permitted to hope from you some certain result.
REPLY OF FRANCIS JUNIUS TO THE MOST LEARNED MAN, AND MY VERY DEAR BROTHER, JAMES ARMINIUS GREETING:
TERTULLIAN, On whose works, as you know, I have now been long engaged, has been the cause of my long silence, respected brother. In the mean time, I placed your letter on a shelf plainly in my view, that I might be reminded of my obligation to you, and might attend, at the earliest possible opportunity, to your request. You desire from me an explication of a question of a truly grave character, in which the truth is fully known to God: that which is sufficient He had expressed in His written word, which we both consult with the divine help. You may set forth openly what you think and do not think. You desire that I should present my views, that from this mutual interchange and communication of sentiments, we may illustrate the truth of divine grace. I will do what I can according to the measure, which the Lord has admeasured to me; and whatever I may perceive of this most august mystery, I will indicate it, whether I regard it as truth or as a merely speculative opinion, that you with me may hold that which belongs to the Deity. Whatever pertains to my opinion, if you have a more correct sentiment, you may, in a kind and brotherly manner, unfold it, and by a salutary admonition recall me into the way of truth. I will here say nothing by way of introduction, because I prefer to pass at once to the subject itself, which may rather be “good to the use of edifying,” as the apostle teaches. I judge that all desire the truth in righteousness: but all do not therefore see the truth in righteousness. “We know in part, and we prophesy in part,” (1 Cor. xiii, 9,) and “when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth.” (John xvi, 13.) We perceive a part of the truth: and present a part; the rest will be given in his own time, by the Spirit of truth to those who seek. May he therefore grant to both of us that we may receive and may present the truth.
That we may both realize greater advantage from this brotherly discussion, and that nothing may carelessly fall from me, I will follow the path marked out in your letters, writing word for word, and distinguishing the topics of your discussion into propositions; and will subjoin to them, in the same order, my own opinion concerning each point, that in reference to all things you may be able to see clearly, and according to the Divine will, determine from the mode of my answer, what I think and what I do not think. The following is your first proposition, in which you may recognize yourself as speaking.
For the original post with comments, go to: http://arminiantoday.com/2013/01/17/arminius-and-junius-show-us-how-to-debate/