I grew up in a village called Scotia. When I was a child, all I really knew was my home, my school, and some sites from my car. I knew my home was located in Scotia, but I didn’t really know what Scotia was like, or where it was.
Soon, I got my first bicycle. I began to ride through the streets, learning the street names, the sites, and the feel of the village. As I grew, I became more and more familiar with my surroundings, and I developed a greater appreciation for my home.
When I became a teenager, I started to learn the area around Scotia. I understood where it was in relation to the various towns around me. Slowly I developed a better sense of where my home really was.
For me, discovering Arminianism was much like discovering Scotia. I didn’t grow up in a Calvinist church, or was converted to Calvinism when I came to Christ. Nor was I raised in a Semi-Pelagian Church thinking that it was Arminian. My church was legitimately Arminian; I just didn’t know that was what it was called. Calvinism was just this “ancient heresy” that I had heard about once or twice, but never really gave it much thought.
Then in college, I remember being told that a band that I listened to was Calvinist. I was shocked. I did not suddenly think they were bad or anything. I was just shocked that Calvinism was still around. I then got involved with an on-line debate site called carm.org which is run by a Calvinist. I wasn’t really that concerned with the topic though; I was more concerned with talking to atheists and cult members.
As time went on, I became more and more frustrated with the Calvinists at Carm. I knew they weren’t all bad (I liked the guy who ran the site for instance). But I found I had to keep cleaning up their messes. The Calvinists were pushy, rude, and were giving Christianity a bad name. So, I began to ask them questions.
I found that what I believed in was called “Arminianism”. I had never heard the term before. However, when they tried to explain Arminianism to me, it never sounded like what I believed in. When I described what I believed, they assured me that I was Arminian, but “one of the good ones”. This somewhat disturbed me since many of their descriptions of “other Arminians” were clearly unbiblical. So I began to investigate.
By this time I was in seminary, and to understand things better I took a course about Arminianism and Calvinism (taught by an Augustianian Catholic. I had a very fun seminary). I was hoping to understand the two systems better, and to test my own beliefs.
From seminary, I learned that what the Calvinists were describing as Arminianism wasn’t Arminianism at all. It was called Semi-Pelagianism. Ancient Arminianism was actually referred to as Semi-Augustianism, a term that most Calvinsts don’t even seem to know. Furthermore, I learned that the Synod of Dordt (which they claimed was a significant historical document backing up their claim to orthodoxy) was a local council with little authority. I also learned the teachings of Arminius himself, as well as John Wesley. In these two men, I found not only clear wisdom and piety, but true devotion to Scripture.
From all of this, I was greatly disturbed at the slander and libel that I was encountering on-line. Calvinists were constantly equating Arminianism with Semi-Pelagianism, while occasionally equating it with every other heresy ever conceived. Most of these were deceived, but behind it all were many deceivers.
I accepted the label ‘Arminian’ and began defending it, but not because I wanted to label myself, nor because I am so committed to Arminius, and not because I hate Calvinism itself. I began defending Arminianism because those particular people who are using Calvinism for their own ends are damaging the name of Christ and need to be opposed. I’ve never seen myself in opposition to Calvinism, but in opposition to a movement which happens to be Calvinist (This movement is often called the Calvinist Resurgence).
My passion is a passion for truth and honesty. I want the truth taught, but I also want people to think clearly, and be honest with their own motivations and beliefs. This movement is disrupting the integrity of the faithful, dispossessing them of the heart of Scripture, and robbing them of their minds. This is the conviction that I have come to. Some of you may be offended at that, but this is where I am right now, and I have to follow where it leads me. So I will continue to fight the fight, and promote an honest reading of Scripture.