The FACTS of Arminianism are:
Freed by Grace (to Believe)
Atonement for All
Security in Christ
The acronym parallels the famous TULIP developed after the Synod of Dort and now known as the five points of Calvinism. However, not all Calvinists would agree that the five points sum up their theology. I had a college professor who said he was a 7-point Calvinist and not a 5-pointer. I have also seen where some even say that they are 10-point Calvinists.
Arminianism is based on the teachings of Arminius as well as the five points that the Remonstrants brought to the Synod of Dort (1618-1619). Historically, it was Arminianism that had its five points before Calvinism developed its five points however I will acknowledge that the TULIP is the greatest known acronym in theology. I pray to God that the FACTS of Arminianism will help people better grasp what it is that Arminians (such as myself) truly hold to. Arminianism has sadly been abused and often twisted by her opponents and not given a fair understanding in theological debates.
In comparison to the five points of Calvinism, we are not as far from each other as it might seem. Calvinists could read over the five points above and would disagree with atonement for all, conditional election, and possibly with freed by grace but they would accept (I suppose) our view of depravity and security (though some would hold to “once saved, always saved” and we would disagree). However, while Calvinists will often say that their theology is completely monergistic and view Arminians as synergists, this would not be the case. Arminianism is full of grace. The entire notion our theological understanding is that God is the one who first must act. This is not about man. This is not about glorifying flesh. God acted first toward Adam and Eve and their posterity (Genesis 3) and He continues to reach out to lost humanity through the gospel (Romans 10:14-17). The cross is an act of grace in which the Lord Jesus bore the sins of humanity upon Himself (John 1:29; 1 John 2:2; 4:14).
In reality, Arminianism is monergistic itself. We hold that God is the one who works. When a person believes the gospel, they do so by God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). Faith is not a merit or work (Romans 4:5). Even Calvinist theologian R.C. Sproul acknowledged that faith is not monergistic. Sproul instead holds that regeneration is monergistic and I would not disagree. It is clear that regeneration is the work of the Spirit of God (John 3:3-7; Titus 3:5-7) and not our work. However, I would disagree with Sproul that regeneration precedes faith since faith produces regeneration (Acts 16:30-34; 1 Corinthians 1:21; Ephesians 1:13).
In my next post, I want to begin to work through the FACTS of Arminianism point by point. Along the way I will interact with Calvinism but my main goal is to show what we Arminians truly believe.
The early Methodists were driven by a hope of the gospel that they found in the doctrine of unlimited atonement. Because they believed the Bible taught that Jesus died for all men and that He shed His blood for all men, they assumed that the entire world needed to hear that message. This was the passion of the Methodist missionaries such as Francis Asbury who burned up and down the east coast of the United States (then the thirteen colonies) with the gospel. Asbury was burning not just with a passionate love for Christ but for the lost. Asbury longed to see the lost come into the kingdom of God.
The motivation for evangelism among us Arminians should be the same. We should, above all others, burn with a passion for the lost to hear the gospel because we believe that Jesus died for all men but only those appropriate the work of Christ will be eternally saved. We believe that the Scriptures are clear on this issue and cannot be ignored. We must not twist the texts to make them read something they do not such as the notorious work of John Owen over John 3:16.
Scripture is clear that Jesus died for all (1 Timothy 2:3-4). God said through the prophet Ezekiel that He doesn’t delight in the death of the wicked but He wants them to turn and live (Ezekiel 18:32). Jesus said in John 6:40 that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life. He said in John 6:44 that no one could come to Him unless the Father who sent Him draws them and He would raise them up at the last day. Jesus went on to say in John 12:32 that He would draw all peoples to Himself. How does the Lord do this? The answer is through the preaching of the gospel (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47; John 20:21; Acts 1:8; Romans 10:14-17; 2 Corinthians 5:18-21).
Paul the Apostle wrote in 1 Timothy 4:10 that Jesus is the Savior of all men especially of those who believe. This verses teaches us that the atonement is sufficient for all to be saved (a point even Calvinists acknowledge) but is efficient only for those who receive His saving work by faith (John 3:14-18). The Lamb of God was slain for the sins of the whole world (John 1:29; 1 John 2:1-2) but people remain under the wrath of God unless they repent of their sins (Acts 17:30-31).
This doctrine should thus drive us to evangelism. The Spirit of God is working through the gospel to draw sinners to the Savior. Jesus said that the work of the Spirit of God is to convict the world of sin (John 16:8-11). This is nothing less than the enabling, pre-regenerating work of God’s grace to draw the lost to Himself. God alone saves sinners but He works through the agency of men to draw the lost to Himself through the preaching of the gospel. No doubt God could just zap people and they be saved but this would not glorify Him as much as lost sinners now saved by grace telling others the truth of the gospel, that Jesus shed His blood for the lost and He will save all who repent of their sins and place their saving faith in Jesus (Romans 10:13).
What this means then is that the person sitting by you on the subway is a person who can be saved through faith in Christ. What this means is that the person working next to you in the office is a person who can be saved through faith in Christ. What this means is that your next door neighbor in your apartment complex is a person who can be saved through faith in Christ. What this means is that the wicked sinful ISIS can be saved through faith in Christ. What this means is that the store clerk you pay when you buy a Coke is a person who can be saved through faith in Christ. What this means is that the person you pay for your food is a person who can be saved through faith in Christ. What this means is that every person you give a gospel tract to is a person who can be saved through faith in Christ.
So go out in boldness and share the gospel with the lost. This pleases the Lord (2 Peter 3:9). God is exalted through lost sinners being found by His grace (Ephesians 2:7). Pray for all to be saved (1 Timothy 2:1-6) and share the gospel with all. Allow the love of God to fill your heart for the lost.
I want to begin a series of posts on the Society of Evangelical Arminians post by Dr. Brian Abasciano on the FACTS of Arminianism. The FACTS is an acronym to help Arminians and non-Arminians know what Arminianism embraces and teaches. Calvinists have the acronym TULIP the essentially sums up their theology. While I would argue that both Arminianism and Calvinism are historically deeper than merely five points, nonetheless these five points have been the main points we both contend with and over regarding salvation.
The five points of Calvinism were not original with Calvin. They originated from the Synod of Dort where the Remonstrants brought forth five main points of contention and debate among Calvinists. Bear in mind that Arminius begin his debate within Reformed theology and not outside of it. Calvinist seem to assume that Arminius was an outlaw with a rebel attitude toward Calvin and Beza. This is not the case. Arminius was raising points over doctrine among Calvinists of his day (though they did not call themselves Calvinists). Arminius’ main point of contention was whether the creeds and confessions could be altered if in fact they did not align with Scripture. Calvinists of his day were contending that the creeds and confessions were just as binding as the Bible. Arminius differed.
The five FACTS of Arminianism will help the reader to understand a little more what Arminians believe regarding salvation and how the Spirit of God works to bring regeneration to a soul. This miracle of God (John 3:3-7) is wonderful to study and I pray that we all would grow closer to the Lord by studying His Word regarding His saving work.
Time for a little satire so all you Calvinists, please don’t take this too seriously.
The following is from the personal blog of Dr. John Wesley Calvin (not a real person).
Why does God allow Arminianism? This was posed to me recently at a conference I was attending (you know us Calvinists, always attending various conferences). If you look around you’ll notice that nearly 98% of the church is Arminian. They are everywhere. They have way more Bible teaching programs than we do, more seminaries that are Arminian in theology, and their books fill Christian bookstores. Arminianism is the dominant theology in the United States and many Western nations. What are we Calvinists to do? How do we respond to this? And why does a sovereign God allow such errors to persist?
Let me try to answer you my dear Calvinist friends and family.
God gives Satan a certain amount of freedom and as the father of lies (John 8:44), Satan is always seeking to deceive people from the truth (2 Corinthians 4:4). Satan blinds Arminians eyes to the truths of the doctrines of grace.
2. To Strengthen the Saints.
God allows Arminianism to persist so that the testimony of the saints will be stronger. This affliction (2 Corinthians 4:17) is used by God to help us know the truths of Calvinism. Further, when you debate an Arminian, you see how ignorant they are and how they don’t use the Bible to defend their views. They are lovers of self, prideful, lovers of so-called “free will” and they despise God’s sovereignty. God uses these debates to show us true saints how correct we are and how the doctrines of grace truly exalt our God.
3. To Show Who The Reprobate Are.
I have no doubt that many Arminians are reprobate. They will be cast into hell for their denial of God’s grace, God’s sovereignty, and God’s glory. These reprobates bring shame to the truth of God. God allows Arminians to persist to show us who are truly the elect or not (1 John 2:19).
So my dear Calvinist friends, let us continue in the doctrines of grace till the end. We will win this war because truth is on our side.
I enjoy Church history. I enjoy reading the story of how the gospel flowed from the book of Acts to the nations. I love reading how people have taken great steps of faith to take the gospel to the nations. It blesses me to see Psalm 110:1 being taken to the nations.
That said, I will confess that this post is very biased. I am not writing from a position of having studied many hours over Church history books. I did listen to a podcast by Dr. Curt Daniel on hyper-Calvinism. If his views hold, we will see cycles of Calvinism in the church. This seems to be the view of Dr. Daniel and my own as well though I have not lived through them.
Dr. Daniel views the cycles of Calvinism as follows. These points are my own:
1. Initial Revival of Calvinism
2. Cage Staged Calvinism
3. Apologetical Calvinism
The first is the embracing of Calvinism followed by the cage stage where the young Calvinist is zealous for all things Calvinistic. I have noticed that in this stage the Calvinist often will not necessarily read the works of Calvin or Spurgeon or Edwards or MacArthur or Sproul but will write and talk as if they have. In this stage, Calvinism is the gospel and the point of agreement. If a person is not a Calvinist, they are viewed as wrong, perhaps heretical, and even unsaved. I have been declared as all three!
From the cage stage the Calvinist turns to apologetics to defend Calvinism. This often leads to men such as James White or R.C. Sproul. I have found the younger Calvinists to prefer to download White than to read Sproul. The apologetics stage is where the young Calvinist goes on a witch-hunt for anything and anyone that is against Calvinism.
The final stage is hyper-Calvinism. I praise God that not many have found their way here yet. Even R.C. Sproul, despite agreeing that Romans 9:22-23 does teach double predestination, admits he cannot go on to being a hyper-Calvinist. Most stop at point #3 and many turn back either to being biblical Arminians or some reject the faith altogether.
If Church history can teach us anything then according to Dr. Daniel, we will see a rise in hyper-Calvinism over the years to come after we have watched Calvinism explode onto the scene the past 15 years. I pray that godly Calvinists will fight against hyper-Calvinism as hyper-Calvinism always leads to loss in missions, loss in unity even among disagreeing brethren, and leads to dead faith.
This is just the views of a very biased Arminian.
There are so many idols that can capture our hearts. 1 John 5:21 warns us against idolatry. We are not to be idolaters as some of the Israelites were (1 Corinthians 10:7) and we are to flee idolatry (1 Corinthians 10:14). Exodus 20:3-4 warns against the sin of idolatry. Idolatry is a sin of the flesh and shows our utter corruption (Galatians 5:20).
I look around and I see idolatry all over the place. Granted I don’t see people outwardly bowing down to pools, to idols made of wood or stone but I do see people bowing down to the false idols of self, of sex, of pride, of lust, of riches (or Mammon as in Matthew 6:24). I see bowing down to the gods of entertainment, food, music, and drink.
But I see even more idols in the idolatry of worshiping sports teams, the idolatry of parents who adore their children above God. I see even people idolizing theology and lifting up knowledge above their passion for Christ. They can sit for hours and discuss deep theological themes but they don’t bow their knees to pray, to worship, to evangelize. They just talk about theology but never truly worship the God whom they claim they are seeking.
The idol of money is a powerful idol. I see people chasing after money. Chasing after things of this world. I see people chasing after more stuff, more houses, more cars, more boats, more motorcycles, more toys. Their old adage is “He who dies with the most toys, wins.” Do we not see that we take nothing with us (Ecclesiastes 2:11)? We enter the world with nothing and we leave this world with nothing. Only what is done for Christ will last (Matthew 6:19-21).
John the Apostle tells us in 1 John 2:15-17 that only those who do the will of the Father will abide forever. We are not to love this world or the things in the world for if we do so, the love of the Father is not in us. We cannot both love this world and love God at the same time. The chasing after idolatry is foolish and leads only to death for these gods are false gods and cannot save us.
In the end, God will destroy all idols and all idolaters (Revelation 21:8). We have broken His command in Exodus 20:3-4 and have served other gods. It was this sin of idolatry that led to the children of Israel being cast out of the promise land and into the Babylonian captivity (Ezekiel 16:15-22). God sent the prophets to warn the people of Israel to turn from their idolatry but they did not. God gave them over to their lusts and they were led into captivity. God gave the land a sabbath from their wicked ways. Will He spare us? Does not Romans 1 promise that God will give people over to their idolatry and their sins? We become what we worship.
Oh that we might repent and ask the Holy Spirit to guide us into His truth. Let Him search our hearts to keep us from the wicked sin of idolatry (Psalm 19:13). I pray that the Holy Spirit will place His hand upon all the idols of our hearts. The idols of football teams, of our children, of technology such as Facebook or even blogging. May the Spirit lead us to love Christ more and fear Him alone. May He lead us toward godliness and being totally devoted to Christ the King.
Oh Lord purge me of idolatry!
Within the heart of every disciple of Jesus should be an intense hatred for sin. We despise not just the sins that we sin in the world but we detest even more so the sin that we sin in us. We hate the sin of pride, the sin of hypocrisy that we sin in us. We long to be like Jesus in all that we say and do (1 John 2:6) but we see that we are often far from that perfect standard (Matthew 5:48).
And I believe this is a great assurance that we are truly saved. This hatred for sin. There is no denying that the Bible forbids us from dwelling in sin (1 John 3:4-10). Paul the Apostle teaches us in Romans 6 that having been baptized into Christ Jesus, we are now free from sin and its power. We are free to be slaves of righteousness.
However, I still see sin in my life. I don’t mean that I wake up and commit sin. I hate sin. But I still find the Holy Spirit placing His gentle hand upon me and revealing to me my own arrogance, my own pride, my own self-righteousness and my sins of the tongue (James 3:1-12). There are seasons it seems where the Spirit will give me that assurance that I am focused on Christ and He truly is my reward but then there are times where the Holy Spirit reveals to me my sins. I have learned to love those times. I have learned that the Holy Spirit is doing this out of love for me and not out of condemnation (Romans 8:1). I remember that Hebrews 12:5-6 and I keep coming back to that text as the Spirit opens my wicked heart up to show me what I need to repent of.
Repentance is an ongoing process. I have been a disciple of Jesus for over 20 years and I find that He is still working on me. The Spirit of God is still in the process of making me more like Christ. I don’t doubt that I am much different from when I first repented. I have come a long ways. Yet I still have far to go. I might not struggle with what I struggled with as a 17-year-old when I was baptized into Christ but I am still far from what I want to be.
We live in a sinful fallen world. We live in a world with sin all around us. Satan uses these tools to attract the world to its destruction. For the disciple of Christ, we hate this world (1 John 2:15-17). We long to be clothed in perfect righteousness where we will not struggle with sin. We long to forever with our Lord and away from this sinful world. Yet we remain here and we have to fight against sin. We do this not by our own will power but in the power of the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-17) and through the hope that we have in the gospel. Our salvation is based on the work of Jesus Christ and what He has done (John 19:30; Ephesians 1:7). Our salvation is based not on our works but upon the saving work of the Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). This does not take away our personal responsibility before God but empowers us toward holiness (Titus 2:12). Holiness flows from grace (Ephesians 2:10).
I pray that all disciples of Jesus will hate sin. I pray that we all would long to be like Christ in all that we are (Ephesians 5:1-2). God calls us to holiness (1 Peter 1:15-16) and this is accomplished one step at a time. Along the way, I trust the Lord to be faithful to His promises and sanctify me (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).