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Calvinists: Read Arminius!

There are a few Calvinists on Twitter who like to create tweets aimed at Arminians.  They hash tag the comments with #Arminianism in them.  Nearly all the posts are aimed at “self-righteousness” or “self salvation” as they see it.  These men honestly believe that Arminians teach and believe that we save ourselves, that we are responsible for our own salvation, or that an element of human pride exists in us so that we want credit for our own salvation before God.  Of course, none of this is true.  I have been saved over 20 years and have never, not once even, heard an Arminian say that they saved themselves or that they were responsible to keep themselves saved.  I have had long discussions with both Arminians and Calvinists over issues such as eternal security or salvation in general and we all agree that salvation and our security is based on the work of Christ.

Yet these men on Twitter continue to promote lies about Arminianism.  I finally had a talk with one of them.  We went back and forth discussing his tweets.  He admitted to me that he has never read Arminius.  He stated that he didn’t know if John Wesley was saved or not (though I suspect he thinks Wesley is in hell because of his rejection of Calvinism).  He said that he is not against evangelical Arminians (which is what Wesley was by the way) but against self-righteous people who teach that we are saved by grace but kept by works.  I agreed with him, that the Church should preach that this is untrue.  However, in the end I felt like he was going to start avoiding tweeting that Arminians or Arminianism was self-righteousness or we teach that we are saved by grace through faith but keep ourselves saved by good works.

He did not.  He went right back to tweeting that Arminians believe this or that when none of it is true.

Here is my suggestion for him and for any other Calvinists who are interested in Arminianism or in studying Arminianism: read Arminius.  While it is true that some aspects of both Arminianism and Calvinism don’t entirely come from Arminius or Calvin, I would argue that it is helpful to at least start with these two men.  For instance, Arminius never taught that we save ourselves, that we should take pride in saving ourselves by our own free will, or that mankind is free to just choose God whenever they desire to.  Arminius, like Calvin before him, taught that salvation is a work of God’s grace, His mercy, His Son, and that the will of mankind is bound by sin and apart from the Spirit of God opening our eyes to the gospel (John 6:44), none could be saved.  Arminius wrote,

In reference to Divine Grace, I believe, 1. It is a gratuitous affection by which God is kindly affected towards a miserable sinner, and according to which he, in the first place, gives his Son, “that whosoever believers in him might have eternal life,” and, afterwards, he justifies him in Christ Jesus and for his sake, and adopts him into the right of sons, unto salvation. 2. It is an infusion (both into the human understanding and into the will and affections,) of all those gifts of the Holy Spirit which appertain to the regeneration and renewing of man — such as faith, hope, charity, &c.; for, without these gracious gifts, man is not sufficient to think, will, or do any thing that is good. 3. It is that perpetual assistance and continued aid of the Holy Spirit, according to which He acts upon and excites to good the man who has been already renewed, by infusing into him salutary cogitations, and by inspiring him with good desires, that he may thus actually will whatever is good; and according to which God may then will and work together with man, that man may perform whatever he wills.

In this manner, I ascribe to grace the commencement, the continuance and the consummation of all good, and to such an extent do I carry its influence, that a man, though already regenerate, can neither conceive, will, nor do any good at all, nor resist any evil temptation, without this preventing and exciting, this following and co-operating grace. From this statement it will clearly appear, that I by no means do injustice to grace, by attributing, as it is reported of me, too much to man’s free-will. For the whole controversy reduces itself to the solution of this question, “is the grace of God a certain irresistible force?” That is, the controversy does not relate to those actions or operations which may be ascribed to grace, (for I acknowledge and inculcate as many of these actions or operations as any man ever did,) but it relates solely to the mode of operation, whether it be irresistible or not. With respect to which, I believe, according to the scriptures, that many persons resist the Holy Spirit and reject the grace that is offered.

It should be clear from the above that God’s grace alone brings salvation and it is the grace of God that keeps us saved.

I would stress the importance of reading Arminius.  I urge you, my brethren, let us not make up things about one another and send them into the world on Twitter.  Let us be honest, admit when we are wrong, and admit when we just don’t know if Arminians or Calvinists believe such and such.  We are called to love one another deeply (John 13:34-35) and I just don’t see this when we lie about one another. This is not Christian but pagan when we do so.


Written by The Seeking Disciple

03/08/2013 at 9:33 PM

2 Responses

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  1. I had this same exact conversation with someone through email this evening.

    William W. Birch

    03/08/2013 at 10:43 PM

    • I think its fair. If we are to understand one another, let us at least read the others views correctly.

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