Arminian Today

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Posts Tagged ‘Church

We Are All Fallible

The Bible is clear that there are none righteous, no not one (Romans 3:10).  We have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).  Our minds and hearts are warped with sin when we come to Christ and the work of God in sanctifying us is to make us more like Christ (Romans 8:29-30).  Yet even after we come to Christ, we bring years of sin, years of filling our minds with wordiness and compromise.  We also bring to the Lord all our culture, our thoughts, our upbringing, our traditions.  All of this must be laid before the Lord and we take up our cross and follow Him (Luke 9:23-25; 14:25-35).

Of course, not all of that is sinful.  Our culture may or may not be sinful.  Our traditions may or may not be sinful.  We must take all of them and lay them before the Word of God (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22).  The Word of God is the only infallible and inerrant guide in our lives (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  We submit to the Word of God (John 8:31-32).

Yet this doesn’t mean we don’t bring our fallible presuppositions to the Bible.  We all do.  I appreciate those who come humbly to the Bible longing for the Holy Spirit to teach us as little children (Matthew 18:2-4).  I acknowledge that I don’t understand everything about the Bible and there are parts I have yet to grasp.  I suppose I never will.  This doesn’t mean that I don’t study the Bible or don’t read difficult passages but I don’t build doctrines on passages that are not clear.  Nor should you.

Furthermore, we can read a passage and bring different presuppositions to the text.  Take the controversy of Romans 9.  When Arminius begin to preach through the book of Romans, it was at Romans 7 that Arminius first differed with the Reformed pastors of his day.  Arminius argued that Romans 7 was not a Christian.  This was (and remains) not the view of the Calvinists.  Arminius, who at the time was himself likely a Calvinist or at least was trained by Calvinists, was willing to disagree with the theologians of his day over the sake of truth.  I happen to agree with much of what he wrote about Romans 7.  That said, I know that neither myself nor Arminius are infallible.  Arminius brought his presuppositions to the text and so did the Calvinists of his day.

Another text that is hotly debated is Romans 9.  We Arminians read Romans 9 and we see the concept of corporate election all though it.  We see God showing mercy to whom He desires to show mercy and hardening whom He wants to harden (Romans 9:18) but we don’t see this in the sense of individual unconditional election of people to salvation.  Calvinists do.  And why?  Can we both be right?  Could we both be wrong?  We both read Romans 9 and we both seek to be faithful to the text but we read Romans 9 totally different ways.

We read Romans 7 or Romans 9 or Ephesians 1 or John 6 in different ways because we are fallible.  Muslims point to the divisions in the Church as proof that Allah needed to send the final prophet to unite all people.  Of course, Islam is not united.  ISIS is proof of that.  Atheists point to John 17:20-23 as a text that shows God did not answer Jesus’ prayer since the Church is not one.  Other cults such as Jehovah’s Witnesses harp on the same thing.  Where is the unity?  Where is the one true Church?  Who is correct in their doctrine?  Who is the one who is preaching the true gospel?

All this does is prove that men are sinful.  That is all.  We are fallible.  We are fallen creatures made in the image of God but sinful nonetheless.  Our thoughts are not infallible.  Only the Bible is infallible.

The answer I believe is humility.  I confess that I don’t know all things.  I confess I could be wrong about Romans 9.  That said, there are clear things taught in Scripture that I believe are essential and are vital to our salvation.  Seeing election unto salvation in Romans 9 is not one of them.  Seeing all the gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12 as operative today or not is not essential to salvation.  Seeing the “rapture” in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 is not essential to salvation.  Seeing the book of Revelation as futurist is not essential to salvation.  The deity of Christ, His miracles, His teachings, His saving work on the cross, etc. are essential.  Faith is essential (Hebrews 11:6).  Repentance is essential (Acts 2:38).

My point here is not to be some postmodern in regards to Scripture.  I believe the Bible is the inerrant and infallible truth of God given to us to reveal His salvation (John 20:31; 1 John 5:13).  I am not claiming that humility is greatest virtue and we should not be dogmatic over theology.  I believe theology is vital to our salvation (1 Timothy 4:16; Titus 2:1).  I believe that without sound exegesis, you could be preaching or hearing about the wrong Jesus (Matthew 24:23-25).

But I am arguing to humility toward our brothers and sisters in the faith who disagree with us over non-essentials.  I am calling for love (John 13:34-35) and charity.  2 Timothy 2:24-26 is clear (NIV):

24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

The Lord’s slave should reflect their Lord who is humble (Matthew 11:29; Philippians 2:5).  Our Lord Jesus gave us the perfect example for us to follow in His steps (John 13:15; 1 Peter 2:21).  Jesus Himself was not quarrelsome even with the Pharisees.  Yes He rebuked them in Matthew 23 but He also warned them, loved them, and ultimately (here is my Arminianism coming out) died for them (Luke 23:34; John 11:49-52).  Jesus was kind to all and He taught all who would hear Him.  He handled His opponents with much grace (Matthew 22:23-46).  Jesus always answered His opponents with Scripture.  He didn’t make it a personal issue.  Jesus wanted them to repent and come to the truth.  Many of them did repent after His death and resurrection including a Jew named Saul of Tarsus.

While we are often willing to grant grace toward sinners, we are not willing to grant it toward our fellow disciples.  This should not be.  We should be humble and willing to love even that brother who disagrees with our end times view or our mode of baptism.  We should be willing to preach the gospel with our Calvinists friends who disagree with us over many issues but who preach the same saving Jesus as we preach in Arminianism.  Let us unite over the essentials, defend the gospel at all costs (1 Peter 3:15-16) but love each other over non-essentials and personal preferences (Romans 14:1-4).

And those are the thoughts of a slave of Christ.  May Jesus be glorified (John 3:30).

The Shallowness of Seeker Churches

Over the past ten years or more we have been witnessing a revival in Calvinism and Reformed theology.  I can remember in college back in the 1990’s when neither Arminianism nor Calvinism was a big issue.  The issue in those days was the Lordship controversy with John MacArthur and the Dallas Theological Seminary teachers such as Charles Ryrie and Zane Hodges.  There were debates over spiritual gifts (charismatic vs. non-charismatic) and debates here and there over the security of the believer but by in large the issues related to Arminianism and Calvinism were not much of an issue.

Fast forward to now.  The debate couldn’t be much hotter.  I do appreciate that more and more brothers and sisters are learning to debate with grace toward each other as Scripture commands (2 Timothy 2:24-25).  Philippians 2:3 is becoming a passage we all need to heed.  Philippians 4:2 needs to be preached more.

On the one hand, I as an Arminian do not rejoice in the revival of Calvinism I see around me.  After all, I oppose the “doctrines of grace.”  But I do rejoice that disciples of Jesus are longing for more, wanting to go deeper in their theological knowledge, wanting to explore the deeper things of God.  And while I confess that I believe Arminianism to be deeper than Calvinism on many issues, I do believe that Calvinism is a move past the basics that are often not even being preached in the Western churches.

In my neck of the woods, we have a very large seeker sensitive church.  They would likely argue that they are not seeker sensitive but “Spirit sensitive” but their sermons, their music, etc. are all focused on attracting people to church.  They don’t care if you love Jesus or not (though they say they want to introduce you to Him).  Their point is to make church cool again, to get you in the doors, to get you “plugged in” with small groups, prayer, etc.  Some of what they do is good.  Jesus is mentioned a lot.  I appreciate that.

Recently I have subscribed to their podcast to listen to their preaching.  I have been listening to two different seeker sensitive churches in my area both of which are large.  After hearing a few of their sermons, I see why so many young people move toward Calvinism.  Calvinism is readily out there with podcasts, apps, study Bibles, Bible conferences, etc.  The works of John Piper are even quoted a few times by one of the speakers.  Tim Keller is mentioned much.  Matt Chandler seems to be a favorite.  All three men are Calvinists.

The preaching is typically focused on the people.  The text does not drive their preaching.  While they will occasionally quote from the Bible, the focus is the hearer.  The audience is their focus.  These are not dying men preaching to dying people about the living Savior.  These are showmen offering products to consumers.  That is the bottom line.  The sermons can be heard at any Amway presentation.  “You can make it.”  “You can do it!”  “You will survive this!”  “You got this.”  “Jesus will help you!”

So I can see a young person sitting in these churches just coming to faith in Christ.  They were drawn to the church by the women, the men, the cool music, the awesome logo, the lights, the sounds, the largeness of it all.  They came broken by a world that offers nothing and takes all.  They heard about Jesus, thought they would give Him a try and so they take the preacher up on his offer and they raise their hand, say a prayer, get baptized in a mass baptism, and start going to a small group.  While I would not say these people are saved at this point, they are are just what John Wesley described as “awakened sinners.”  They know they are lost, know that they are sinners, know that they need a Savior.  They have been brought to Christ by the traditions of men and not the Bible.

That said, they start to listen to the sermons, download the podcasts and they take a chance on hearing John Piper.  Piper blows them away!  He is actually preaching the Bible!  Piper begins to teach them and they become his students (or his cubs as Roger Olson puts it).  Soon they are reading Piper, listening to other Calvinists, and the door is opened to a new life in Calvinism.  Like Austin Fischer, they plunge into the world of Calvinism out of the shallowness of the seeker church.

The young person moves up!  Some of them actually repent at this point and get truly saved.  They leave their shallow seeker church to go to a Reformed church.  Some of them remain here.  Some move on higher out of Calvinism.

The seeker church has been a source for the revival of Calvinism.  I listened to just three sermons from a large seeker church and I was done.  It was not good.  The guy is a pretty good public speaker but he is no elder (1 Timothy 3:2 with an emphasis on teaching here).  The duty of biblical elders is to shepherd the flock of God (1 Peter 5:1-2) which includes teaching the Word (2 Timothy 3:16-4:5; Titus 1:5-9; 2:15).  I heard talks but didn’t hear exegesis of the texts.  I heard much talk about people but little emphasis on the sinfulness of mankind in light of the perfection of God’s holiness.  I heard much about Jesus coming and what He has done for us but I heard little in way of repentance and faith in His saving work.  I heard much about praying the sinner’s prayer but no emphasis on the Lordship of Christ and our submission to Him when we repent (Luke 6:46-49; Acts 2:36-41; 3:19-20).

The Arminian church must preach sound doctrine.  Now is not the time to become pragmatic and want to copy the seeker churches to gain the crowds.  Our duty is to preach Christ to the lost (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).  Our duty is not to gain crowds.  Our duty is to be faithful to our King and not to this world (John 14:15).  What you win them with is what you win them to.  If you preach Jesus and His Lordship, this often doesn’t draw crowds.  In fact, it often draws hate.  People love Jesus so long as He is their “god” that they worship and they created.  People often despise the true Jesus when He is preached in the power of the Spirit (John 15:18-16:4).  There are many counterfeit Jesus’ being preached by many (Matthew 24:23-24).  Our duty is to preach the true Jesus by preaching His inerrant and infallible Word.

May the Lord help us all, whether Arminian or not, to preach the Word of God faithfully and to exalt the one true and living God.  Jesus alone can save sinners and we must proclaim Him and His glory!

Happy Reformation Day

Thank God for Martin Luther otherwise I might be Catholic living in Europe and dead in my sins (Ephesians 2:1-3).  

Written by The Seeking Disciple

10/31/2015 at 11:55 AM

Posted in church, Protestant

Tagged with , ,

Arminius on the Pope and the Roman Catholic Religion

Arminius shared in the Reformers views regarding the Papacy.  His words are strong toward the Pope and he holds nothing back.  In our time, it is now common to offer grace toward Roman Catholics but we must remember that during the time of Arminius, the Catholics were persecuting all Protestants.  The debate with the divines at Geneva would be set aside when it came to battling the Catholics as Arminius would gladly join hands with the Calvinists to debate the Catholics and defend biblical Christianity.

This should be a call to us today as well.  We are not Catholics.  I stand with my Calvinist brethren in defense of the Reformation, in a call to forsake Rome, and I defy the Pope.  I stand with Arminius and denounce the Roman Catholic Church, I denounce the Roman Papacy, I denounce the Popish mass, I denounce the Popish rituals and traditions.  I denounce the Roman Catholic idolatry and their beatification of the saints.  I denounce their view of Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Arminius stated about the Pope:

He is the Adulterer of the church, both by the public and mutual profession of each other; because he calls the [Roman Catholic] church his and she neither disowns the arrogance of this title nor is afraid of the odium [attached to such assumption,] and he is the adulterer in reality. For he practices spiritual adultery with the church, and she in return with him. He commands the apocryphal writings to be accounted divine and canonical; the ancient Latin version of the Scriptures, [commonly called] the Vulgate, to be everywhere received as the true original, and under no pretense whatever to be rejected; his own interpretations of the Scriptures to be embraced with the most undoubting faith; and unwritten traditions to be honoured with an affection and reverence equal to that evinced for the written word of God. He enacts and rescinds laws that pertain to faith and morals, and binds them as fetters on consciences. He promises and offers plenary indulgences, and the remission of all sins, through the plenitude of his power. “He exalteth himself above all that is worshipped,” and offers himself as some god to be adored with religious worship. In all these acts the church, deceived by his artifices, complies with his wishes. He is, therefore, the Adulterer of the church.

But he is also the Pimp or Pander of the church, because he acts towards her as the author, persuader, impelling exciter and procurer of various spiritual adulteries committed, or to be hereafter committed, with different husbands, with angels, Mary and other deceased saints, with images of God, of Christ, of the Holy Ghost, of the cross, of angels, of Mary, and of saints; with the bread in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper; and with other inanimate objects.

Arminius wrote about the true foundation of the Church of God:

The Foundation of the church universal is only one, because there is but one house of God and Christ. Its properties are these: It stands by its own power, and does not rest on any extrinsic foundation. (1 Tim. iii, 15.) The whole house, consisting of two people, the Jews and the Gentiles, is built upon this foundation, as upon a chief corner-stone, and is sustained, by the power implanted in it, against all things which can assail it from without, whether from above or from below, on its sides, on the right hand and on the left; it continues immovable, does not totter, is not sunk or overwhelmed, and does not fall. (Heb. iii, 6; Ephes. ii, 20-22; Matt. xvi, 18.) This foundation is the immediate fulcrum or prop and firm support to all the lively stones that are built upon it; “they who believe on Him shall not be ashamed;” but it is a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense to those who do not believe and are disobedient; it dashes them in pieces, and they perish. (Isa. xxviii, 16; 1 Pet. ii, 4-6.) All these properties, both generally and severally, belong to Christ alone. But the Roman Pontiff is not Christ. Therefore, neither is he the foundation of the church. But the metonymy, by which the Prophets and Apostles are called “the foundations of the church,” (Rev. xxi, 14,) and by which the saints are said to be “built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets,” (Ephes. ii, 20,) attributes nothing more to them, than their being “labourers together with God” in laying down Christ as this foundation, and in building up the whole house on Him. (1 Cor. iii, 5- 12.) But St. Peter was also among these; yet he excelled none of the other Apostles in any prerogative, but was inferior to St. Paul, not indeed in power, but in “the more abundant labour” of the latter in building up the church. (1 Cor. xv, 10.)

Arminius viewed the Roman church as apostate as he writes:

By the term, “the Church of Rome,” we understand, not that congregation of men, who, confined within the walls of the city of Rome, profess the Christian faith, (although this is the only proper interpretation of that term;) not the court of Rome, which consists of the pope and of the cardinals united with him — not the representative church, assembled together in council, and having the Roman pontiff as president, nor the pope of Rome himself, who, under the cover of that title, extols and makes merchandise of his power. But by “the church of Rome” we understand a congregation of Christian, which was formerly dispersed through nearly the whole of Europe, but which is now become more contracted, and in which the Roman pontiff sits, either as the head of the church under Christ, but placed above a general council, or as the principal bishop inferior to a general council, the inspector and guardian of the whole church. This congregation professes, according to the canons contained in the council of Trent, that it believes in God and Christ, and performs acts of worship to them; and it approves of those canons, either because they were composed by the council of Trent, which could not err — or because it thinks that they are agreeable to the holy Scriptures and to the doctrine of the ancient fathers, without any regard to that council.

I find it hard to imagine then that Arminians today would associate with Rome.  We are not “separate” brethren from the Roman church.  Arminius viewed the Roman church as apostate and in need of the gospel.  The Reformed churches that Arminius spoke of were not separated from the Roman church but he understood them to be the church and Rome to be apostate and a false church.

Let us pray for the Roman Catholics to hear the gospel and repent.  I have personally seen the damage the Roman church has done in most parts of the third world.  Their idolatry and wickedness surround you in many Latin American nations.  The Catholics are not to be joined with.  They are to be preached to and evangelized.  Let us stand with Arminius and preach the gospel to the lost souls in the Roman Catholic religion (Matthew 28:19-20).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

09/28/2015 at 1:30 PM

What Became of the Emergent Church?

Back about 7 years ago, when I first started blogging, the emegent church was the talk of the blogs.  I even had a friend go down the emergent road.  He was raised in a strong Southern Baptist home, attended an SBC college, and his father was an SBC evangelist.  Sadly, my friend gave in to his “emergent” desires and left the SBC and most of biblical Christianity altogether.  Today he is a shell of the man he use to be.  He has seemingly abandon his faith altogether in favor of a social gospel where Jesus is not even preached (unlesss He is being used as an example).  

The emergent church is where I thought they would end up: in dead denominations.  Most have embraced the far left in theology and practice.  They have given up trying to be “evangelicals” and realize that their dream of being both an evangelical and a liberal simply cannot come to pass.  The few emergent spokesmen left are on the left theologically and no one in the evangleical church is listening to their “conversations” anymore.  It seems since they have abandoned Jesus and His gospel of saving sinners from sin, they have had to find a new cause (which is typically what happened to the old liberal denominations such as the United Church of Christ or the PSUSA).  Their new causes are on humans becoming better.  They want to end poverty (just not poverty of spirit).  They want to end war (just not battle the enemy of Satan).  They want to encouarge socialism (just not the biblical work ethic).  They want to champion the rights of minorities (just not address their sins).  Nearly every emergent I have known has left the biblical church.  They have forsaken sound doctrine.  In fact, the Bible is only used to justify their causes.

Gone are the days when emergents were somewhat taken seriously.  We view them all know as I did then: liberals and apostates.  They have become Jude 8-13.  

In the end, truth always wins.  The Lord Jesus will win (Psalm 110:1).  We have the assurance in the Bible of His complete victory (1 Corinthians 15:24-26).  Christ Jesus will judge the living and the dead (2 Timothy 4:1).  His truth will defeat lies (John 17:17).  When emergents begin to question the Bible, their downfall was assured.  Today they don’t question the Bible but just rejest it.  The Rob Bells of the world is what you are left with.  Yet God’s truth is still going forth.  Sinners are still being saved.  Why?  Because God’s Word and His ways always will conquer.  

So the emergent voice is gone.  It continues now only among liberal denominations that are dying.  Gone are the days when some people actually bought their books.  Gone are the days when people would watch Rob Bell or Doug Padgitt’s sermons.  Gone are the days when some evangelicals considered emergents as worth hearing out.  Today we just view them as liberlas who offer us nothing and preach nothing.  

For me, I say good riddence. I am happy to see the death of the emergent movement.  Oh I know they will say they live on but they are spiritually dead and offer nothing.  The gospel is still transforming sinners (2 Corinthians 5:17). The gospel is still freeing sinners from the chains of sin and death (Romans 1:16-17).  The gospel is still focused on the person and work of Jesus (1 Corinthians 2:2; 15:1-4).  I rejoice that that gospel is still bearing fruit in all the earth (Colossians 1:6).  

Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/12/2015 at 4:18 PM

Posted in church, Emergent

Tagged with , , ,

Arminian Denominations Reactions to Same-Sex “Marriage”

I have been greatly blessed to see Arminian denominations coming out against the United States Supreme Court ruling in favor of so called same-sex “marriages.”  I first read of Dr. George Wood and the Assemblies of God releasing their statement against the ruling followed by the Church of the Nazarene.  I have also seen various fundamental Wesleyan and Methodist groups uniting against the ruling.  Other Pentecostals have released statements including the Church of God (Cleveland, TN), the Church of God in Christ, and the Pentecostal Holiness.

I pray that two things will now place in the Church.  First, I pray that we will now see the Church doing what she has failed to do and that is address many of these issues head on with the Bible.  We must address biblical marriages and what they look like.  We must address premarital sex, divorce, remarriage, and other issues with the Bible.  We must teach our children what biblical marriages are and shape the next generation so that when the next generations arise we will see this wicked ruling from the Supreme Court overturned.

Secondly, we must pray for a national revival.  Let’s face the facts that the reason that this ruling passed is not merely because of liberals on the Supreme Court but from years of wickedness building this up.  The Church has failed to transform this generation and the ones before her so that this event took place.  Having watched TV in the 1980’s and 1990’s, the homosexual agenda was in full view as Hollywood begin to shape the views of people in favor of homosexuality.  The Church should have been pleading with souls, crying to God for revival but we were asleep.  Many of us allowed these programs into our homes week after week that so indoctrinate our children into the homosexual favored view.

We need revival to sweep our land.  We need a move of God.  I long to see souls saved, for people to repent.  We have much more sins than just homosexuality in our nation.  We have all types of wickedness abounding all around us (Romans 1:18-32).  I was reading 2 Timothy 3:1-5 today and it is clear that the many sins there are abounding all around us.  We have been shocked at homosexuality but we should have been equally shocked by the rampant sins that we see each and everyday.  Greed, lust, pride, self-righteousness, lack of apathy, disobedience to parents, etc.  We have tolerated sin so much so that we have become shocked when sinners do what they do and pass laws to affirm their sinfulness (1 Peter 4:3-4).

Thank God for His sovereignty.  Thank God that He is watching over His Church and I know He will hear our cries.  The world is full of evil but we serve a King who is able to destroy all evils and bring about His salvation (Psalm 110:1).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

06/30/2015 at 5:17 PM

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