Arminian Today

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Why Arminians Should Stand With Calvinists In Regard To Inerrancy

There are doctrines that we disagree with our Calvinist brethren over.  We disagree over the decrees of God.  We disagree over whether we have retained free will after the Fall.  We disagree over what Adam has passed to us.  We disagree over the extent of the atonement.  We disagree over whether election is conditional or unconditional.

Yet the doctrine of Scripture should be a doctrine that we agree on.  After all, it is the preaching of the gospel that brings salvation (Romans 10:14-17).  Paul the Apostle stated clearly that the preaching of the cross was foolishness to those who are perishing (1 Corinthians 1:18-25).  The preaching of the gospel is necessary to bring about the salvation of sinners (Matthew 28:19-20).  So it would only logically make sense for us to take a firm stand on the authority of the Bible.  The Bible is given to us by the work of the Holy Spirit working through godly men to bring about His holy Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  Jesus said that the Word of God cannot be broken (John 10:35).  Jesus further said that His Word would never pass away (Matthew 5:17-18; Luke 16:17).

How is then that some Arminians want to reject inerrancy of the Bible?  Some reason that this is not a biblical position noting that the word inerrancy doesn’t appear in the Bible.  I would note that the word Trinity is not in the Bible either but it is based on reasoning from the Scriptures.  The same is true for inerrancy.  We base our view of the Word of God on what God has already said about His Word in the Bible.  The Bible says that God cannot lie (Numbers 23:19; Titus 1:2) so what He says in His Word is absolutely true.  Some will contend that this is circular reasoning but it is biblically true.  Proverbs 30:5 says that every word of God proves true.  This is true of Genesis 1 as well as John 1 or Philippians 1.

Others want to say that they believe in “salvation inerrancy” meaning that only passages related to salvation are inerrant.  My question: how do they know that John 3:16 is true if they can’t trust what God said in Genesis 2?  The reality is that those hold to this “limited inerrancy” view are in fact placing themselves as the judge of Scripture (or at least others such as scientists or secular historians).  Only those who hold to full inerrancy can truly believe that what God said in 2 Timothy 3:15 is true just as what God said in every portion of Scripture.

Arminius was not like these Arminians.  He wrote much about the perfection of the Word of God.  He wrote:

We assert, that the arguments which, contained in the Scriptures, prove the Divinity of the religion prescribed in them, are so full and perfect, that no arguments can be derived for the defense of any religion which are not comprehended in these, and in a more excellent degree. (2 Cor. iv, 2- 6.) They are indeed of such high value that the truth of the Christian religion is established by them as strongly, as it is possible by any other arguments to prove that there is any true religion at all, or that a true one is possible. So that to a man who is desirous of proving, that there is any religion which is true, or that such a religion is possible, no way is more compendious and easy than to do so by these arguments, in preference to any other which can be deduced from general notions. But the most wonderful of all is, that the very thing in the Christian religion which seems to be one of the greatest absurdity, affords the most certain proof of its Divinity, it being allowed to be a very great truth — that this religion has been introduced into the consciences of men by a mild suasion, and not by the power of the sword. (1 Cor. i, 29-xxiv, ; 2 Cor. v, 11; Luke ix, 54, 55.) Of a similar tendency is the argument formerly used by St. Augustine: “If the Christian religion was established by the miracles which are related in the Scriptures, it is true; but if it was not, the greatest of all miracles is, that it has been able to obtain credit without miracles.” For the internal suasion of Him who alone can work miracles, ought to stand in the place of miracles outwardly performed, and to be equally potent. (Rev. ii, 17.) And thus the very narration, contained in these books, of the miracles which were performed in the early ages in proof of the doctrine, is now, through a most beautiful vicissitude of circumstances, proved to be true by the Divinity of the doctrine when subjected to examination.

John Wesley stated about the truthfulness of Scripture:

This is that word of God which remaineth forever, of which, though heaven and earth pass away, one jot or tittle shall not pass away.  The Scripture therefore of the Old and New Testament is a most solid and precious system of Divine truth.  Every part thereof is worthy of God; and all together are one entire body, wherein is no defect, no excess.

I hold with both Arminius and Wesley that the Bible is true in all that it affirms.  Some want to even use the term “inerrancy” but they only mean that the Bible is inerrant when it speaks of salvation and not historical or scientific truth.  I affirm that the Bible is true in all that it affirms.  While the Bible is not a science book or even a history book per se, it still is true in what it affirms in regard to science or history.  I hold that the Bible is true in Genesis 1-11 and equally true in John 1-11.  There is no difference.  Whatever the Bible affirms is true because the very Spirit who has given us the Bible is the Spirit of truth (John 15:26).  Jesus Himself said that the Word of God is truth (John 17:17).

I find it alarming further that people who claim the infallibility of the Bible but deny its inerrancy will say that the Bible contains errors.  While they don’t produce any without their own presuppositions, they suppose that the Bible does contain errors.  2 Timothy 3:16 says that all of Scripture is breathed out by God.  Those who will say that the Bible is not true in whatever it teaches is making a grave assumption of God, that is that 2 Timothy 3:16 is not true since they would argue that such and such passages are in error.  They first make themselves the judge of Scripture as to what is true or not while ignoring their own utter sinfulness and faulty understanding in light of their own sins (Romans 1:21-22).  God alone is perfect in His wisdom and understanding yet sinful men will claim that they know where God has erred in His Word while ignoring 2 Timothy 3:16.  They claim that some parts of Scripture are indeed inspired by God such as John 1:12-13 but they will not say that all of Scripture is inspired of God despite 2 Timothy 3:16.  I fear for them before a true and holy God.  I am not saying that such people are not saved (for God saves us by His grace and not based on our perfect theological understanding; Ephesians 2:8-9) but I do believe them to be calling God a liar no matter what they may argue.

There is a fear among some Arminians to join hands with our Calvinists brethren to defend the doctrine of inerrancy.  I reject such a view.  I rejoice that many godly Calvinists are indeed declaring the truthfulness of Scripture and affirming the inerrancy of the Bible.  I rejoice that God is using many godly Calvinists to glorify His name.  Whether they be Arminians or Calvinists, if the Lord Jesus Christ is being exalted, worshipped, adored, and praised, I rejoice in those who preach Him!  I will gladly join with my Calvinist friends in preaching the Lord Jesus and I will gladly join with them in defending the truthfulness of the Bible.

Others are fearful that holding to inerrancy automatically means that we ascribe ourselves as “fundamentalists.”  I myself have no problem being labeled as such.  Certain aspects of current Baptistic fundamentalist trouble me and I am not a King James Bible only advocate.  I find the KJV only position to be illogical.  That said, I do agree that the fundamentals of the faith are worth defending (Jude 3). I believe strongly in many fundamentalist positions of doctrine such as the virgin birth of Christ, His sinless life, His miracles, His vicarious atonement, His death and bodily resurrection and His ascension to the right hand of the Father.  I ascribe to many of the creeds of Christianity and affirm, yet again, that the Bible is true in all that it affirms.  I study my Bible each and every day because I love the Word of God and long to know it more.

In conclusion, the Bible is the Word of God.  The very claims of Scripture are that it is true.  The Lord Himself spoke in Isaiah 45:19 that He speaks the truth.  Again 2 Timothy 3:16 says that all of Scripture is God-breathed.  The Bible is given by the Spirit of God whom is called the Spirit of truth.  The authority of the Church to proclaim the risen Christ, His salvation, and His judgment to come is based on the Word of God.  The precious promises of heaven and eternal life are based on Scripture.  The foundation of human thought and wisdom come from the Scriptures.  Our authority in evangelism is based on the truthfulness of Scripture.  Our authority to preach the forgiveness of sins is based on the absolute truth of the Bible.

So I stand with my Calvinist brothers and sisters who preach the inerrancy of the Bible.  I will gladly join with them in defending its truth and I believe that every Arminian should do the same.

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