Arminian Today

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Tony Miano’s Apology and My Response

Tony Miano has issued an apology regarding his statements that I wrote about recently in a post here at the blog.  I appreciate Tony’s candor and his honesty.  While I still maintain that he is wrong in his Calvinism and I hold that it is he who is in error here and not us Arminians, I will allow him to be.  I do offer a short response to here from some of the things that he wrote on his blog.

Tony’s Errors on Arminianism and Works Salvation.

First, while Tony does apologize, he still maintains that Arminians hold to a false gospel.  He writes:

The following clarifications should not be seen in any shape or form as a retraction of my position. Again, I am firm in my belief that consistently-held Arminianism is a false gospel.

And he states:

My concern–my heartfelt, loving, compassionate, fearful concern–is for those men and women who fight for Arminianism. Yes. I am concerned for their souls. I believe consistently-held Arminianism is closer to Mormonism (2 Nephi 25:23) and Roman Catholicism (Prevenient Grace, for example) than it is to biblical Christianity. So, of course, my concern for the ardent Arminian is as great as it is for the Mormon and for the Roman Catholic.

For those unfamiliar with the quote from the Book of Mormon, it states that we are saved by grace after all we can do.  Tony believes that this is what Arminians hold to despite never quoting from any Arminian theologians ever.  I have followed Tony for many years now and I have never seen him quote an Arminian, speak of Arminian theologians that he is reading, never quoted from Arminius or Wesley, and I have never seen him interact even once with any Arminian theologians.  The only Arminian I have ever seen him speak of is Dr. Michael Brown and he wrote that Brown needs salvation and that he was praying for Brown to repent and believe the true gospel (Calvinism).  Had Tony read any of Arminius he would see that Arminius is a theologian of grace and he stood against the Roman Catholic Church in both his public ministry and writings.

For example, Arminius wrote this about the grace of God and try to discern from this if he is closer to biblical truth or the errors above that Tony states we align with:

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.

John Wesley preached this about the grace of God:

So little do they understand that great foundation of the whole Christian building, “By grace are ye saved:” Ye are saved from your sins, from the guilt and power thereof, ye are restored to the favour and image of God, not for any works, merits, or deservings of yours, but by the free grace, the mere mercy of God, through the merits of his well-beloved Son: Ye are thus saved, not by any power, wisdom, or strength, which is in you, or in any other creature; but merely through the grace or power of the Holy Ghost, which worketh all in all.

Is that works salvation as Tony implies?

Tony Still Insists Calvinism is the Gospel.

Many other Calvinists have made his error before him including Charles Spurgeon and his infamous sermon on Calvinism.  Tony, at first, seems to imply in his apology that Calvinism is not the gospel only to turn around and write:

Calvinism (Doctrines of Grace) is not the gospel, but only in this sense. Calvinism is a systematized, biblical representation of the gospel. On the other hand: Arminianism is a systematized, unbiblical representation of the gospel. It is a theological construct that is antithetical to the Doctrines of Grace. Hence, If I believe the Doctrines of Grace rightly represent the gospel, and I believe Arminianism does not, then consistency demands I believe Arminianism is a representation of a false gospel.

In his excellent book, Killing CalvinismGreg Dutcher writes:

The danger is that, while we may begin with Reformed theology as the framework by which we more coherently understand and appreciate our faith, over time it can become the substance of our faith.  At that point, daily living is more about mastering Reformed doctrine that being mastered by Jesus and his total claim over every area of our life.

Dutcher goes on to write how his Reformed theology is his windshield by which he looks out at God and the world but it is not the only windshield.  There are plenty of non-Calvinists (including us dreaded Arminians in Tony’s view) who read the Bible, pray, worship, share our faith, love our families, homeschool our children, etc. but not from a Calvinistic point of view.

Back when Tony was trying to bring some clarity to his “debate” with Mark Cahill over Calvinism, he wrote this:

The theological positions known as Calvinism and Arminianism are “mutually exclusive” in that the two systems oppose each other in debatable issues but not in the essentials. The essentials would include the Trinity, the deity of Christ, Christ’s physical resurrection, salvation by grace through faith, etc. The debatable issues would include pre-trib rapture vs. post-trib rapture, worshipping on Saturday or Sunday, etc.

So in 2010, Miano felt that the debate was over non-essentials but now he holds that Calvinism is the gospel.  What changed?  I suppose he could say that he was wrong in 2010 to write that toward Mark Cahill but remember, he was writing to teach us that Cahill was wrong to say that Calvinists worship a false god.

Miano further wrote in 2010:

Throughout my conversation with Mark, I asserted that I do not believe Calvinists and Arminians worship different gods or believe different gospels. I assured him that so long as we agree that we are saved by the grace of God alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone (the Jesus of the Scriptures) that we are brothers in Christ. I told Mark I would welcome the opportunity to evangelize the lost with him, and he was welcome atop my box to open-air preach anytime. Sadly, by the end of our phone conversation, Mark would not affirm me as his brother in Christ. I repeatedly asked Mark if I was his brother in Christ. He refused to answer.

Now Tony would say that Mark is not his brother and neither are serious Arminians such as myself, John Wesley, Arminius, Adam Clarke, Richard Watson, Francis Asbury, Samuel Chadwick, Leonard Ravenhill, Vic Reasoner, Thomas Oden, or Michael Brown.  Somewhere Calvinism became the issue when in 2010, it was not.

By the way, Ray Comfort, whom Tony Miano adores and I as well, does not make Arminianism and Calvinism an issue with his ministry.  Why does Ray get a pass?  Ray, from my readings of him and listening to him, does not hold to limited atonement which Tony says if you hold to unlimited atonement you are in error.  So why does Ray get a pass?  Ray pleads with the lost to come to Christ and he sounds very Arminian in his preaching on the atonement as well as his call to repent.  Yet Tony gives Ray a pass?

Tony’s View of Arminians and Arminianism.

Tony builds a straw man here when he writes:

I’ve yet to meet an Arminian who believes asking God to save people is unbiblical. Yet the person who consistently holds to the Arminian doctrine of Resistible Grace should never pray for God to save someone. To pray for God to save someone, to pray for God to in any way infringe upon a person’s will so that He can assert His own, is to ask God to make His grace irresistible to the person who is the subject of the prayer.

Certainly Arminians pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” And most Arminians will insist as I do that God is sovereign. Yet the Arminian doctrine of Resistible Grace runs contrary to a prayer for the Lord’s will to be done and contrary to any assertion that God is truly sovereign.

Most Christians who ascribe to Arminianism will assert their confidence that they will one-day spend eternity with Jesus, in heaven. Yet, at the same time, they will assert they can lose their salvation. See the inconsistency? How can one have any hope, let alone confidence, of his salvation if he believes that salvation can be lost by his own doing? More about this toward the end of the article.

These are but a few, simple examples of Arminians who simply aren’t Arminians.

Again, I make a distinction between the confused Arminian described above and the rabid Arminian. While the rabid Arminian is certainly confused, the confused Arminian is not necessarily rabid.

Had Tony even read Arminius or Arminian theologians, he would know the answers to his own straw men.  I could write about how consistent Calvinism destroys evangelism or why should consistent Calvinists pray or even live holy lives but this would be nothing but a straw man since I know the answers to these by reading Calvinists books and listening to my Calvinist brothers and sisters.

Tony goes on:

I believe the Doctrines of Grace are the only accurate systematized representation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I believe consistently-held Arminianism creates unbiblical positions regarding the character of God, the character of man, the atonement of Jesus Christ, and the means and manner of salvation (this is not an exhaustive list).

I believe Arminianism (a theological construct that is the antithesis of the Doctrines of Grace) is diametrically opposed to and a false representation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I would only, in passing, point out that Tony’s view on Reformed theology is not universally held.  Roger Olson, in his wondeful book that I wish Tony would read, Against Calvinismwrites how Reformed theology is not nailed down just by TULIP.  He points out that there are many who call themselves Calvinists who would not agree at all with the “young, restless, Reformed” movement of today.  I point out that men such as Russell Moore (formerly of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) and Tommy Nelson (Calvinist pastor in Texas) both reject limited atonement.  Are they wrong?  Tony would say yes!  They are in error and need to repent.

I will also note that you’ll notice Tony offers nothing to show how we Arminians are wrong about our view of the character of God, of man, of the atonement, and the means and manner of salvation.  He simply states that we are wrong and that is that.  No interaction with any Arminian works or theologians.  No quotes from Arminius.  Nothing from Wesley.

I do agree, however, that we Arminians are opposed to Calvinism.  I have never acted otherwise.  That said, I have never held that Calvinist are lost, that they are believing a false gospel (because neither system is the gospel but a way of looking at the gospel), and I would gladly worship, defend, and preach the gospel with my Calvinist friends.  Again, as Tony held in 2010, I believe these are non-essential issues that Christians can disagree over.

Tony’s Closing Remarks (More Straw Men)

“It’s not true! I believe there is goodness in me!” That is pride.

“God didn’t elect me! God simply knew I would make the right decision and choose Christ!” That is pride.

“God is not a cosmic puppeteer, a cosmic rapist! He’s a gentleman! He wouldn’t force me to do anything against my will! Jesus died for my sins, but I had to choose Him! I had to accept Him!” That is pride.

“I must persevere to the end in order to be saved! I can lose my salvation, and I’m determined not to lose it!” That is pride.

Arminianism is a prideful, theological construct. God is opposed to the proud (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5).

There are no proud people in heaven. The reason? God humbled Himself. He humbled Himself by taking on human flesh and allowing Himself to be crucified for crimes he did not commit (Romans 3:21-26; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 2:5-11; Hebrews 12:2).

Yet God gives grace to the humble (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5). God will extend His saving grace to His Elect. Christians will likely be surprised one day when they see who is and who is not in heaven. I’m hopeful the redeemed will include many who call themselves “Arminians.”

Tony believes that the very heart of the Arminian above (which is nothing but a straw man) is pride.  Not one of the statements he writes I have ever seen in any Arminian writings.  Not one.  I have read Arminius and he never writes on the pride of man in “earning” his salvation.  Wesley never preached that we can obtain our salvation by our works.  None of what Tony wrote is true of any Arminian I have ever read or known.  I have known many prideful people (and I have been one of them) but my pride was not in me earning my salvation but in thinking too highly of myself now that Christ has saved me (Philippians 2:3-4).  So many Calvinist attacks on Arminianism do nothing but produce false straw men that are not true and the above are no different.

Arminius wrote:

But justification is attributed to faith, not because it is that very righteousness which can be opposed to the rigid and severe judgment of God, though it is pleasing to God; but because, through the judgment of mercy triumphing over justice, it obtains absolution from sins, and is graciously imputed for righteousness. (Acts xiii, 39.) The cause of this is, not only God who is both just and merciful, but also Christ by his obedience, offering, and intercession according to God through his good pleasure and command. But it may be thus defined, “it is a justification by which a man, who is a sinner, yet a believer, being placed before the throne of grace which is erected in Christ Jesus the Propitiation, is accounted and pronounced by God, the just and merciful Judge, righteous and worthy of the reward of righteousness, not in himself but in Christ, of grace, according to the gospel, to the praise of the righteousness and grace of God, and to the salvation of the justified person himself.” (Rom. iii, 24-26; 3, 4, 5, 10, 11.)

Where is the pride of man in Arminius above?

One final note here before I leave this.  Tony attacks Arminians for holding to the possibility of apostasy but he himself would hold that perseverance of the saints is necessary for final salvation lest the person prove “they were never saved to begin with” (1 John 2:19).  So Tony would teach that we Arminians are wrong for warning people of apostasy but he himself would say that a person who turns away was never saved to begin with.  Both need warnings don’t they?  Whether you believe in apostasy or not, the sinning person needs to repent (1 John 3:4-10).  Again, his straw man is not good.

Conclusion

Will there be Arminians in hell?  Yes!  Will there be Calvinists in hell?  Yes!  We are not saved by our systems.  You can hold to Arminianism or Calvinism and still be lost.  Salvation is Jesus.  Salvation is not a system or a church or a doctrine.  Salvation is found in a PERSON!  I am man-centered in my theology: the Man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5).  I believe Jesus is my hope, my salvation.  My salvation is not found in Arminius (who is dead) or Wesley (who is dead) or in Roger Olson (who will die just as I will).  My salvation is found in Jesus Christ.  He is my passion.  I would gladly stand on the streets of my city and preach the Lordship of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:5 NASB).  I would gladly preach that we are justified before God only through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (John 6:29; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-7).  Our salvation, from beginning to end, must be focused only on Jesus and nothing more lest we be preaching another gospel (Galatians 1:6-9).

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Written by The Seeking Disciple

10/16/2015 at 5:38 PM

5 Responses

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  1. I have seen where a “Calvinist ” claims that he is not concerned about Calvinism, arminianism, or any other theological system, only what the Bible States. He then went on to quote Calvin and talk abolition T.U.L.I.P. Makes me wonder?

    Phil Eneboe

    10/16/2015 at 5:54 PM

    • I meant talk about T.U.L.I.P. Sorry!

      Phil Eneboe

      10/16/2015 at 5:56 PM

      • I agree. I went through a phase where I talked about Leonard Ravenhill and his books on prayer more than about what Scripture says or loving Jesus. We can all get too focused on men instead of Christ.

  2. Great Post, Roy. Although I would ultimately leave it between Tony and God, I’d say he needs to repent for his mis-characterization and blatant judgment of Arminians. I’m not sure how the guy even sleeps at night, knowing full well he misrepresents us and, not only that but, will not quote any Arminian scholars/writers. He blatantly lies to his readers/hearers. How he does not recognize it and repent is beyond me. But, again, I would leave that between him and God.

    Steven Wolf

    10/19/2015 at 7:58 AM

    • Thank you brother. I agree. I have been praying for Tony to do that and recognize his errors regarding us Arminians.


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