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Introducing the FACTS of Arminianism

One of the reasons that Calvinism has been effective in their growth is the acronym TULIP.  While some Calvinists contend that the acronym does not embody all that they believe and hold dear, TULIP has long been associated with Calvinism and has helped them to quickly clarify what it is they believe.  The system of Calvinism does seem to stand or fall based on TULIP.  For example, if the Calvinist concept of total depravity is true (T in TULIP) then logically unconditional election would follow (U in TULIP).

When it comes to Arminianism, I admit up front that we have no acronym that defines us.  The five points of Calvinism actually do not come from Calvin but from the Synod of Dort where the early Arminians brought five points to discussion.  The kangaroo court that was the Synod of Dort condemned the five points of the Remonstrants and Calvinism was declared to be the orthodox view.  The five points of Calvinism came out of Dort.

The five points that the Remonstrants brought to Dort are our basis.  In this regard, we Arminians then are not seeking to combat the five points of Calvinism per se but to use the five points originally given to the world at Dort by the Remonstrants.  These are our five points.  In short, Arminianism rather than Calvinism began with five points.

The problem with FACTS is simply that it does not flow like TULIP.  For example, I would rather than total inability be first but the FACTS acronym has freed by God’s grace first (F).  This counters the Calvinist doctrine of irresistible grace (or effectual calling these days).  Therefore, as we work through FACTS we will have to jump around.  This is okay since Calvinism does the same with TULIP.  Each point hangs on the other.  With regard to both FACTS and TULIP, they both work off the other points.  For example, F with T.  Arminianism declares that mankind is depraved, total unable to repent of their sins apart from the grace of God.  Therefore the Lord Himself frees sinners from the chains of sin by His grace when the gospel is preached unto them so that they may respond and either reject or be saved by the Spirit of God.  We agree with Calvinists that sinners are incapable of being saved apart from the work of the Spirit and God’s grace.  We differ with our Calvinist brethren over whether this grace is resistible.  We believe that God frees sinners to believe but He does not bend their wills so they are merely doing what God wills but rather God convicts the sinner of their sins but He allows the sinner by their own free will (that He has freed by His grace) to either reject His salvation or submit to the Spirit and be saved.  When a sinner does submit, this is the divine work of the Spirit and the sinner’s regeneration is a sovereign act of God (John 3:3; Titus 3:5).

On my next post on this topic, we shall begin to look at the FACTS of Arminianism.  We must bear in mind that Arminius himself was a former Calvinist.  Arminius esteemed Calvinism and held on to many of its tenets.  This was not a rebel working against the church of Christ.  Arminius was a man who truly loved Christ and wanted to see the truth of God go forth.  While he differed with Calvin and Beza here and there, this was a man who wanted to follow the Bible above creeds and confessions.  I pray that this would be my heart as well.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

10/05/2014 at 11:14 AM

Does Unconditional Election Bother You?

Having just read Greg Dutcher’s book, Killing Calvinism, Dutcher tells the story of his being asked by a non-Calvinist friend if the doctrine of unconditional election bothers him.  Dutcher was honest to his friend and said, “It does.”  Nonetheless, Dutcher feels that he must surrender to the authority of Scripture and affirm the doctrine despite his acknowledgement that the doctrine does bother him.  He writes that Calvinists should be honest about their feelings toward their doctrinal views without fear.  He said his friend believed that Calvinists had no feelings toward people and just viewed them as robots or pawns in a divine chess game.  Dutcher writes that his honesty was a good starting point to discuss Calvinism with his friend.

I appreciate that about Dutcher.  Like R.C. Sproul before him, he is willing to admit that he doesn’t like everything about Calvinism while accepting it as true.

I would add another approach to this though and that would be to just admit that the doctrine is wrong.  The doctrine of unconditional election is not based on the clear reading of the Bible but upon taking the TULIP and forcing it upon the text.  That is my approach to this issue.  I agree with Dutcher that it bothers me that God has not chosen to save many, many, many people and in fact He has chosen to damn them for eternity all while holding them responsible for a gospel that they could never have accepted in the first place.  That bothers me too.  It bothers me that someone could read the “all” passages such as John 3:16 or Romans 11:32 or 1 Timothy 2:3-6  or 1 Timothy 4:10 or Revelation 22:17 and says that the “all” there is simply the unconditional elect that God has chosen before time began.  It bothers me that God would grant Adam and Eve free will to fall into sin but then He, in His sovereignty, chooses to save only a few for His glory when He could save all for His glory and make the foundation of that election faith in His Son.  That does bother me.

So I choose, from my free will, to reject the teaching of unconditional election.  I don’t do so blindly.  I do so because I don’t see it in Scripture.  I see God choosing people for His own purposes such as Abraham or Moses or Jeremiah or Paul.  I see God choosing nations such as Israel or Egypt.  I see Jesus choosing His disciples (John 15:16).  But I don’t see these as guaranteeing salvation (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).  Romans 9 is clear about this with regard to Israel.  Only those who place their faith in Jesus become His elect that He foreknew (Romans 9:30-33; 10:9-17; 11:2).  Through God’s foreknowledge (Romans 8:29; 1 Peter 1:2), God knows those who will freely believe the gospel and be saved.

I choose instead to affirm a conditional election.  I believe in the sovereignty of God.  I believe that God, in His sovereignty, has chosen to send His Son to be the elected one who will die for our sins.  Jesus shed His blood for all men but only those who appropriate His sacrifice are those accepted in the beloved (1 Timothy 4:10).  Romans 3:21-26 are powerful verses on this point.  It reads:

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

We are justified before God through faith (Romans 5:1) and not unto faith.  At what point are we then saved?  In Calvinism, God’s election of the person means that Jesus shed His blood for that elected person.  When Jesus died on the cross (in Calvinism), He died to save the elect that God had ordained before the world began.  Thus Jesus died to secure the elect’s salvation.  Now when were the elect justified?  Where they justified before time began when God ordained that Jesus would be the Lamb of God for the elect (Ephesians 1:4; Revelation 13:8)?  If this is the case, are the elect eternally justified?  Most Calvinists will answer no to these questions.  Calvinists, like Arminians, will acknowledge that the elect are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9).  But if Jesus died to secure the elect’s salvation, are what point are they saved?  When Jesus died or when they place their faith in Him?  Further, are the elect born regenerated since regeneration must occur before faith because dead men cannot place their faith in the living Christ?

I believe that we are saved when we place our faith in Christ.  Most of my Calvinist brethren do too.  While some of them will say that we are regenerated before faith in Christ, they all acknowledge that they are saved by grace through faith.  I am thankful for that.  We agree on that.  But I wonder, are they, the elect, born without sin?  If Christ died for their sins on the cross (and none of His blood was spilled in vain according to this view), then the sins of the elect were atoned for when Jesus died.  Thus the elect are born sinless?  Correct?  So how can an elect person then need to be justified through faith if in fact Jesus already shed His blood for their sins even before time began?

Perhaps I am wondering here a bit but my point is that the unconditional election view leads to other issues.  I am not asking for them to be resolved here.  I don’t mind that we all appeal to a bit of uncertainty when it comes to some theological issues (the Trinity is a tough one to grasp and though I try,  I have not been able to but I don’t reject the doctrine because I do see it in Scripture).  But when it comes to unconditional election, I do reject it and not just because of where it logical leads (to reprobation of sinners by God’s sovereign choice and makes God guilty of sin and favoritism which He is not in any way) but also because I see the best alternative in Scripture, conditional election based on God’s foreknowledge.  This view, to me, not only is based on the sacrifice of the Messiah but also the doctrine of God Himself wherein He has revealed Himself as loving, good, and just.  The focus of election, in the works of Arminius, is based on the Lord Jesus Christ.  Jesus is the focus of election.  He is the elected One and not only that but He is the foundation for our election.  I was just reading from Ephesians 1:3-14 and it is amazing to me how much “He” and “Him” appear in the text (I was reading it from the NASB).  “He” and not “me” is the focus of election.

I pray that I have not misunderstood Calvinism as this point.  I know many godly Calvinists who are active in evangelism despite their agreement with unconditional election and I am grateful for that.  I don’t mean to cast Calvinists as being ignorant of God’s Word in the least bit.  Many of them are far greater thinkers than I am but I do acknowledge that I am not comfortable, as Dutcher has above, with the doctrine of unconditional election and my rejection of it is, in my mind, based on both Scripture and logic.


Good Quote from Roger Olson on Monergism

Dr. Roger Olson, in his book Against Calvinism, states the following:

The sole reason non-Calvinist evangelical Christians object to monergism is because it makes God the ultimate, even if indirect, cause of the reprobates’ unbelief and damnation.  It does serious harm to God’s reputation.

Great point.  If God is the only one involved in saving a sinner then the non-elect go to hell not because of their own sins but because of the unwillingness on God’s part to save them.  This does not reveal the love of God very well (John 3:16) who gave His Son to die for all (1 John 2:2) when in fact He died to secure the salvation of very few.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

12/13/2012 at 7:13 PM

The FACTS of Arminianism Compared to TULIP of Calvinism by Brian Abasciano


Arminianism may be represented by the acronym FACTS:

Freed by Grace (to Believe)
Atonement for All
Conditional Election
Total Depravity
Security in Christ

These points broadly and roughly correspond to the historic Articles of Remonstrance (though they are not specifically a representation of them), which were composed in July 1610 by early Arminians and constitute the first formal summary of Arminian theology. Article numbers have been indicated for each point for convenient comparison. The points are presented here by logical order rather than acronym order to facilitate explanation most helpfully.

Total Depravity (Article 3)

Humanity was created in the image of God, good and upright, but fell from its original sinless state through willful disobedience, leaving humanity sinful, separated from God, and under the sentence of divine condemnation.

Total depravity does not mean that human beings are as bad as they could be, but that sin impacts every part of a person’s being and that people now have a sinful nature with a natural inclination toward sin, making every human being fundamentally corrupt at heart.

Therefore, human beings are not able to think, will, nor do anything good in and of themselves, including merit favor from God, save ourselves from the judgment and condemnation of God that we deserve for our sin, or even believe the gospel.

If anyone is to be saved, God must take the initiative.

Atonement for All (Article 2)

God loves the world and desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Therefore, God gave his only Son to die for the sins of the whole world so as to provide forgiveness and salvation for all people.

While God has provided for the salvation of all people by Christ’s sacrificial and substitutionary death for all, the benefits of Christ’s death are received by grace through faith and are only effective for those who believe.

Freed by Grace {to Believe} (Article 4)

Because of Total Depravity and Atonement for All (as described above), God calls all people everywhere to repent and believe the gospel, and graciously enables those who hear the gospel to respond to it positively in faith.

God regenerates those who believe in Christ (faith logically precedes regeneration).

God’s saving grace is resistible, which is to say that he dispenses his calling, drawing, and convicting grace (which would bring us to salvation if responded to with faith) in such a way that we may reject it. Those who hear the gospel may either accept it by grace or reject it to their own eternal destruction.

Apart from the realm of pleasing the Lord and doing spiritual good, people often have free will, which means that, with respect to an action, they can at least either do the action or refrain from doing it. People often have genuine choices and are therefore correspondingly able to make choices.

God has ultimate and absolute free will. His choice to supernaturally free the will of sinners by his grace to believe in Christ is a matter of the exercise of his own free will and sovereignty.

Conditional Election (Article 1)

God has sovereignly decided to choose only those who have faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, for salvation and his eternal blessing.

God has foreknown from eternity which individuals would believe in Christ.

Among Arminians, there are two different views of election conditioned on faith:

Individual election: The classic view in which God individually chose each believer based upon His foreknowledge of each one’s faith and so predestined each to eternal life
Corporate election: Election to salvation is primarily of the Church as a people and embraces individuals only in faith-union with Christ the Chosen One and as members of his people.

Since the election of the individual derives from the election of Christ and the corporate people of God, individuals become elect when they believe and remain elect only as long as they believe.

Security in Christ (Article 5)

Since salvation comes through faith in Christ, the security of our salvation continues by faith in Christ.

Just as the Holy Spirit empowered us to believe in Christ, so he empowers us to continue believing in Christ.

God protects our faith relationship with him from any outside force irresistibly snatching us away from Christ or our faith, and he preserves us in salvation as long as we trust in Christ.

Arminians have differing views of whether Scripture teaches that believers can forsake faith in Christ and so perish, or whether God irresistibly keeps believers from forsaking their faith and therefore entering into eternal condemnation (as unbelievers).


The Calvinist position may be represented by the acronym TULIP:

Total Depravity
Unconditional Election
Limited Atonement
Irresistible Grace
Perseverance of the Saints

These are derived from the Synod of Dort, a local synod in Holland, which convened in 1618-1619 to contradict and condemn the Articles of Remonstrance. Here is a brief explanation of each point, with corresponding article numbers from the Articles of Remonstrance indicated for convenient comparison:

Total Depravity (Article 3)

Same as the Arminian points though we do not differ on how to describe human depravity, Calvinists do also believe that this state requires that God first regenerate a sinner before he can believe in Christ, making him alive and giving him a new, holy nature. But regeneration does not merely enable the sinner to believe; it irresistibly causes the sinner to believe.

Unconditional Election (Article 1)

God chose some individuals unconditionally from eternity for eternal life according to his own good pleasure, completely apart from anything having to do with the person, including merit, good works, or foreseen faith.

God withheld his mercy from the rest of humanity, ordaining them to dishonor and wrath for their sin.

Thus, by the decree of God and for his glory, some people are unconditionally predestined to eternal life, and others are left (and so ordained) to eternal death because of their sin, making two specific and static groups of individuals that can never be changed. (Some Calvinists believe that God purposed to glorify his name by unconditionally choosing some individuals for eternal blessing and some individuals for eternal Hell, and that God ordained the Fall and decided to create the world to accomplish this goal.)

Limited Atonement (Article 2)

Christ died only for those certain individuals whom God chose unconditionally from eternity for salvation, enduring the punishment for their sins in their place.

Christ’s death for those who have been unconditionally elected irresistibly brings about their salvation and everything necessary for it, including repentance and faith in Christ.

Irresistible Grace (Article 4)

Those whom God has unconditionally elected, and for whom Jesus died, God will draw irresistibly to faith in Christ by his grace through regeneration (making faith inevitable).

When God brings elect sinners to Christ, he irresistibly causes them to be willing to come to Christ and to come to him in faith freely. (While we are presenting the Calvinist view objectively and typically without comment, the self-contradiction here is just too obvious to let pass: “irresistibly causes them to come willingly and freely?”)

While God calls all without distinction to faith in Christ (the general call), he only calls those he has chosen unconditionally in a way that cannot be resisted (the effectual call).

Those God has not chosen will reject the gospel call of their own will and cannot do otherwise.

Perseverance of the Saints (Article 5)

Those whom God has unconditionally elected and for whom Jesus has died and whom God has irresistibly drawn to faith in Christ will inevitably persevere in their faith and can neither totally nor finally fall away from Christ, because God will irresistibly cause them to persevere. Therefore, their blessed eternal destiny with God is secure.

This perseverance is not based on the believer, who may waver and actually fall into serious sin for periods of time, but is rather based on the continued grace of God.

Those who appear to be believers, but fall away from the faith and die without faith in Christ, demonstrate that they had not truly come to saving faith in the first place.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

10/08/2011 at 10:10 AM

Why I Can’t Be A Moderate Calvinist

Moderate Calvinism is the idea that you can be a four point Calvinist.  This would mean that you hold to Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints but reject limited atonement.  Moderate Calvinists agree with Arminians that the atonement of Jesus Christ was for all.  How do they come to this conclusion?  It seems logical to me that if all the other four points of Calvinism are true then why reject limited atonement?  If God does elect people unconditionally then how could He not know who it was that would be saved when Jesus died on the cross?

The problem with so-called moderate Calvinism is that it doesn’t exist.  Norman Geisler, in his book Chosen But Free, states that he is a moderate Calvinist but in reality he holds only to total depravity and perseverance (though he would call it eternal security).  How is being a 2 pointer somehow a moderate Calvinist?  Why not say that you are a three-point Arminian?  I suppose in Geisler’s case that he would not be welcomed in many seminaries and speaking engagements if he told people he were a moderate Arminian instead of a moderate Calvinist.

Now let me state why I could not be a moderate Calvinist.  First of all, I hold to none of the five points of Calvinism.  We would disagree even over total depravity as Calvinists believe that the doctrine teaches that we are born guilty of sin by virtue of birth and that total depravity means that we are dead as dead can be without free will or any choice.  I believe, as do many Arminians, that dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1) means that we are unable to obtain salvation apart from the aid of God’s grace.  Our works are pointless.  Our righteousness worthless.  We are dead in sin and while we retain some of the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27), we are dead in a spiritual sense.  Because we are separated from God, we are dead in our sins just as Adam and Eve were in Genesis 3 when they fell into sin.  While I agree that the Bible teaches depravity, I don’t believe we are as evil as we can be and that by total depravity I mean that our entire being is depraved in the sense that we don’t seek after God but after the flesh.  Were it not for the Holy Spirit, none of us could be saved.  The Holy Spirit works through the gospel to draw us to the Savior (Romans 10:14-17).  2 Timothy 3:13 says that evil people can go from bad to worse.  If the Calvinist view of total depravity were true, evil people are evil enough.

I know the tendency of some is to say that they are moderate Calvinists when in fact they only hold to total depravity (and most not in the true Calvinist sense) and to eternal security.  Yet again I ask the question of how is that moderate?  What is moderate about that?  I suppose some would call me a “radical Arminian” because I hold to all five points of the Remonstrants.  I do disagree with Arminius over his view of baptism (he held to the covenantal view of baptism including sprinkling and infant baptism) and to his views regarding the Church (he held to a high view of the Church meaning he favored the clergy-laity system).  Arminius and I perhaps would disagree a bit over the issue of total depravity though I am not completely sure on that one.  Other than that, Arminius and I agree on many other issues.  I am not convinced that Arminius (nor Wesley) would want a group named after him but why would I agree with Arminius on most of his theology and then turn around and say that I am a moderate Calvinist?  That makes little sense to me.

So forgive me for ranting a bit.  I have been reading a few “moderate Calvinists” book over the past few days and it finally got to me.  They clearly have more in common with Arminius than with John Calvin but in an effort to remain in the mainstream of evangelicalism, they have chosen to adopt a term that I believe is poorly applied.  I believe that some of my Calvinist friends would agree including Dr. James White.  I will give my true Calvinist friends credit, at least you hold firmly to your beliefs and don’t seek to become a moderate Arminian.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

10/02/2011 at 10:00 AM

Douglas Jacoby on Calvinism

Below is a link to Dr. Douglas Jacoby’s website where he has a short explanation of Calvinism comparing what Calvinists believe versus the Bible.  It is an interesting and fast read.

You can find the article here.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

01/22/2011 at 8:35 PM

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