Arminian Today

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Debates Among Arminians

I was unaware of a post by Dr. Roger Olson until I read William Birch’s post offering “a thorny olive branch from Roger Olson to Evangelical Arminians.”  I read both posts.

Dr. Olson’s post laments that for the past two years he has been receiving attacks from fellow Arminians often accusing him of holding to positions that he does not hold to.  For instance, he states that some have said that he holds to open theism and he denies this.  He states that he has friends who are open theists (as do I) and he does not view them that way Calvinists often do (as heretics).  I would agree.  I myself am no open theist but I also don’t believe that open theism means that a person is a heretic.  While I believe that open theism, if followed out, can lead to some views of God that I don’t believe are biblical, I don’t believe that such people are rejecting justification by faith alone in Christ alone.

Yet me add my own two cents to the issue.  Like William Birch, I am not on the level of Roger Olson.  I drive an 18 wheeler for a living.  I read a lot of theology books, love to preach the Word of God, love God, love to pray and seek His face, etc. but I am no academic scholar on the level of Olson.  Dr. Olson teaches at Baylor University.  I only have a B.A. from Columbia International University.  I would no doubt be humbled if I debated Dr. Olson on many issues.  Further, I do praise God for Dr. Olson.  His book, Arminian Theology: Myths and Realitiesis one of the best books that I have read on Arminianism.  Dr. Olson has been a good defender of Arminianism over the years.  He has interacted with Calvinists such as Michael Horton to seek to correct misunderstandings about biblical Arminianism and to show that Arminianism is not a “man-centered” theology has some have sought to paint it.

Yet I would argue that none of us but Jesus are perfect in word or deed or thought.  We all struggle to speak for God.  The Bible alone perfectly speaks for God and yet we humans struggle how to understand and apply the Bible.  While I believe the Bible is clear, it is not always easy to put together to form an application for life.  For instance, we read Leviticus and we are separated by thousands of years and we read it from this side of the cross where Jesus is our perfect sacrifice for our sins.  We struggle with how to take Leviticus and teach it to the modern ear.  One thing I do as I read through Leviticus is to shout praises to God for His giving of His Son for our sins.  Leviticus makes me praise God more for the gospel and for the freedom we have in Christ Jesus.

None of us, therefore, are perfect when we speak for God.  None of us have perfectly figured out God.  Cults scare me because they can explain God.  Jehovah’s Witnesses have their god figured out.  Their god is someone they don’t have to think deeply about to understand his ways or his nature.  Not so with Yahweh.  We could read the Bible and think deeply about Yahweh and never understand Him perfectly.  We can learn enough about Yahweh to know Him and be saved through Jesus but we cannot grasp our infinite God.  Whether we be Arminians or Calvinists, we cannot grasp the wisdom and depth of God (Romans 11:33-36).  Even the greatest theologians from Jonathan Edwards to Arminius to Calvin to Gill to many others are all humans and all guilty of sin and lack full knowledge of God.  We are all limited.

This is not excuse heresy or to say that some theologians were better than others.  Perhaps I will get to heaven and find that Arminius was better than Calvin or perhaps the other way around.  I don’t think it will matter in eternity whether Calvin was right about predestination or whether Arminius was right that free will flows from the loving character and nature of God.  I don’t think it will matter whether Edwards was right about baptism or whether Jewett was right.  We should strive to honor God with our labors in theology and we should seek to graciously correct those with whom we disagree (2 Timothy 2:24-25) but the key is grace.

Among us Arminians we should strive to be pleasing to God and seek to establish godly fellowship among us Arminians.  The key enemy for the child of God is Satan (Ephesians 6:11-12).  The enemy for the Arminian is not the Calvinist but the devil himself.  We Arminians have a common enemy with our brethren who differ with us and that is Satan.  I pray that we would unite on the fundamentals of our faith and defeat the lies of Satan.  I believe that there is room in the body of Christ to disagree over non-essentials of the gospel message but still be brothers and sisters in Christ (Galatians 3:26-29).  The gospel unites and divides.  The gospel separates us from the worldly-minded, the unholy, and the liars and yet it unites us to those who love Christ, tremble at His Word, and who deeply desire to honor God (1 Corinthians 1:10).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

04/04/2013 at 12:10 AM

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