Arminian Today

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Should Arminianism or Calvinism Be An Issue For Unity?

I want to say from the beginning that I enjoy various Calvinist blogs, podcasts, and ministries.  My wife and I have financially supported a few Calvinist ministries now and again.  I have no trouble praying, worshiping, fellowshipping, and even evangelizing with my Calvinist brethren.  I would stand with my Calvinist friends to defend the gospel, to defend key doctrines such as the inerrancy of the Bible, and I would stand with my Calvinist brethren to preach the gospel.  I have no ill will toward my Calvinist friends.  I simply believe they are wrong in their starting point for their theology though I regard them as brothers and sisters in the Lord.

If I had a larger ministry context, I would not exclude Calvinists from my group.  I would love to have a ministry that reaches people with the gospel much like Ray Comfort’s Living Waters or Paul Washer’s Heart Cry Missionary Society.  In Ray Comfort’s ministry, it is well known that both Arminians and Calvinists have served together with one another.  There has been unity even in the midst of theological disagreements.  The reason is simple: the gospel is not about Arminianism or Calvinism.  One can be an Arminian or a Calvinist and be lost.  This is clear from our churches were people attend but are lost.  There are many people who would claim to be an Arminian or a Calvinist but are not saved.  Salvation is not an ism.  Salvation is found in the living Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 1:30-31).  Salvation is found in Jesus alone (John 1:12-13; 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Timothy 2:5-6).  Salvation is not agreeing with facts about Jesus (James 2:19).  Salvation is loving Jesus and worshiping Him alone for His saving work on the cross (John 14:21-24; 1 John 2:3-6).

In fact, Calvinist Tony Miano wrote this when he was part of Living Waters ministry:

Silence by Living Waters regarding various theological or philosophical issues should not be seen as a position in favor or against those various theological or philosophical issues. And all members of the Living Waters staff are free to believe, study, worship, and fellowship according to their personal convictions and preferences, without compromising their deeply held spiritual beliefs, so long as those beliefs, convictions, and preferences are consistent with the ministry’s Statement of Faith.

This was part of a blog post Miano did on Living Waters and whether they are “anti-Pentecostal.”  While Miano admitted he was not a Pentecostal, he stated his love for them and the fact that they had a few Pentecostals working at Living Waters.  He also wrote this about Arminianism:

A Christian can be a non-Calvinist without being anti-Calvinist in their doctrinal positions; just as a Christian can be a non-Arminian without being anti-Arminian.

I agree with Tony Miano here.  I agree that one can be a non-Calvinist and not be anti-Calvinist.  That would describe myself and so many other Arminians I know.  I am not against my Calvinist brethren but I am not a fan of Calvinism.  I can read Calvinist books, pray with Calvinist saints, preach with my Calvinist brothers, and yet not agree with Calvinism.  Why?  Because Calvinism is the not the gospel.  Jesus doesn’t save Calvinists nor does He save Arminians.  Jesus saves sinners (Luke 19:10; 1 Timothy 1:15).

Yet Miano recently stated in his blog talk radio program that Arminianism is the problem with the American church.  He blamed the “sinner’s prayer” and altar calls on the Arminianism of the 19th century here in the United States.  He went on to rant that Arminianism is one of the unbiblical problems in the American church (along with some other things).

I have watched this slowly developing in my brother Tony.  I am not like some who will call Tony a liar nor will I berate him as a sinner.  I love Tony Miano and love his work for the Lord.  I appreciate his heart to preach the gospel to the lost.  I appreciate his service for the King.  I don’t agree with Tony on every issue.  His Calvinism is often where we disagree.  That said, I appreciate him as a brother.  I would ask he do the same toward me and other Arminians.

What I would like to say to Tony (and other Calvinists) is this: read Arminians.  I wonder when Calvinists attack Arminians, have they read the Works of Arminius?  Have they read any Arminian theologians such as Adam Clarke, Vic Reasoner, or Roger Olson?  Do they know the Arminian Puritan John Goodwin?  Have they read the writings or sermons of John Wesley?  Do they know that Whitefield said that Wesley did evangelism better than he did for Wesley put his converts into bands or small groups?  When was the last time they had meaningful time with Arminian brothers and sisters and talked about theology with them?

The fact is that if brother Tony had read Arminius or the works of Arminians he would see that what he berates as sloppy American evangelicalism does not come from Arminius nor the Arminians of the 19th century but rather from the semi-Pelagianism of Charles Finney.  While many Calvinists try to make Finney an Arminian, he was not.  I would admit that many Arminian churches fell prey to Finney’s theology at the turn of the 20th century and sadly many Arminian churches today look more like Finney than like Wesley.  Dr. Vic Reasoner in his excellent two-volume work, Holy Livingshows that Finney’s theology does not reflect the teachings of Arminius nor Wesley regarding salvation, sin, holiness, etc.  I recommend the book.

I appreciate my open air brethren who happen to be Calvinist.  I would appreciate if they take the time to read Arminians.  I suspect many will not because they have begun with a presupposition in mind and that is that Arminianism equals man-centered theology, that Arminianism equals heresy, or that Arminianism is not God-exalting theology.  All of this is false.  I confess that Arminian books are not as easy to find as Calvinist books but they are there.  I would appreciate them reading Arminius or reading Wesley and seeing that the current state of the American church has nothing to do with Arminius or Wesley but with the teachings of Finney.

Let me end by asking my Calvinist brothers to not do one thing and that is draw a line in the sand with Calvinism being the gospel.  I heard Jeff Rose from Jeremiah Cry (a ministry I support and appreciate again in spite of their Calvinism) saying that he was going to start making a call for people to abandon all forms of theology but Calvinism to work with them.  I ask why?  If Calvinism is not the issue?  If Calvinism does not save?  If Calvin was but a man who saved no one?  Why do this?  Why make Calvinism a gospel issue?

Let us return to the gospel.  Let us return to preaching the gospel and uniting around the fact that the blood of Jesus saves us from the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 1:10).  Let us draw near to God through the Lord Jesus Christ through His precious blood (Hebrews 9:14).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

02/16/2015 at 12:24 PM

One Response

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  1. Well, it shouldn’t be an issue for unity, especially when it comes to evangelism (Billy Graham and George Beverly Shea worked together fine).

    The problem really comes with the Hyper-Calvinist, which in a radical stance on “Predestination”, negates any practical need for evangelism; I mean really come-on, if they’re chosen void of free will, will they saved regardless?

    I will maintain that a true radical in the area of predestination, has more reason to not be “eternally secure”, than the rest of us; after all has he seen God’s list of the pre-destined? He might not be on it, his salvation may not be secure. I say that because the Hyper-Calvinist environment I grew up around, discouraged “Feeling” anything at all.

    Joyful obedience to God’s Word (yes some emotion is involved) is the most accurate gauge we have to be “assured” of our salvation; “By their fruits…..”

    Steve Orwig

    02/17/2015 at 11:30 AM

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