Arminian Today

A Jesus-Centered Arminian Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Learning

Three Things Arminians Can Learn From Calvinists

I love my Calvinist brethren.  I know some might think that I don’t but I do.  I appreciate many godly Calvinists preachers and teachers.  I appreciate my Calvinist brothers and sisters that I know of who are passionate about the gospel and about evangelism.  We don’t see eye to eye on all doctrinal issues but we rejoice in our Savior who saved us by His grace (Ephesians 2:8-9).  Our common salvation in Jesus links us together and we can work together for the glory of God.

I was thinking the other day of what we Arminians could learn from our Calvinist brethren.  If I could ask every Arminian to learn from Calvinists, what would I want them to learn?  What truths do I see among my Calvinist brethren that I appreciate and would love for other Arminians to capture the same vision?  So here goes just three things (though I am sure there are more).

1.  The Exaltation of God in Salvation.

It’s not that Arminianism is “man-centered” theology.  That is not the case at all.  Arminius was clear in his writings that sinners are bound in sin and God must act to save sinners.  However, I do appreciate that across the board Calvinists are united in their firm belief that salvation belongs to the Lord.  I would love to see more Arminians championing this view.  Arminius wrote:

Evangelical faith is an assent of the mind, produced by the Holy Spirit, through the gospel, in sinners, who, through the law, know and acknowledge their sins, and are penitent on account of them, by which they are not only fully persuaded within themselves that Jesus Christ has been constituted by God the author of salvation to those who obey him, and that he is their own Saviour if they have believed in him, and by which they also believe in him as such, and through him on God as the benevolent Father in him, to the salvation of believers and to the glory of Christ and God.

The cross of Christ must be our passion and our glory in preaching the gospel to the world (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).  The cross demonstrates the sovereignty of God in salvation, that He alone is the One who died for our sins and He alone is the One who can forgive us our sins (Psalm 78:38).

We see the exaltation of God further when we read passages such as Romans 1:16-17; 1 Corinthians 1:30-31; Ephesians 1:3-14.  God is the source of our salvation and He is our hope.  May we Arminians exalt Jesus and show the world His great mercy in saving us from sin (John 12:32).

2.  The Inerrancy and Infallibility of Holy Scripture.

Calvinists such as John Piper, John MacArthur, R.C Sproul, James White, etc. are united in defending the authority of the Bible.  Each one of them will defend the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible.  I would gladly join them in doing so.  I too love the Bible and love the God who gave us His holy Word.  I too would defend and stand with my Calvinist brothers and sisters and defend the precious Scriptures that God has given us (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  I worry that some Arminians are not clear on this issue.  Entire denominations such as the United Methodist Church or the Church of the Nazarene have waffled on the authority of the Bible.  I had one former Methodist friend who was chastised by his Methodist bishop for holding to the inerrancy of the Bible.  I too have had two different brothers tell me that I love the Bible too much.

I will say this, any movement that rejects the Bible as the Word of God has failed.  Look at the liberals among both the Calvinists and Arminians and you’ll see a long list of apostates who have abandoned the Word of God and today have no direction.  The Bible provides our authority to speak for God and to hear God.  As we faithfully preach His Word, He is faithful to save sinners and He is also faithful to lead His Church.  Jesus said that His sheep would hear His voice (John 10:27) and we hear His voice in the Bible loud and clear (Hebrews 12:25; 2 Peter 1:16-21).  The Bible is our defense and our weapon against the lies of the enemy (Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12).  I pray that Arminians would unite together and with our Calvinist brethren to stand firm for the Bible and not be moved by our postmodern times.

3. Expository Preaching/Teaching.

Many expositors today are Calvinists.  Men such as John MacArthur, John Piper, Steve Lawson, etc. are all expositors of the Word of God and all are Calvinists.  This doesn’t mean that all Calvinists are expositors but the leading voices for expository preaching are in fact Calvinists.  A few Arminians such as myself or Dr. Vic Reasoner advocate expository preaching/teaching.

Expository preaching flows from a strong view of the Bible (see above).  Those of us who hold to inerrancy and infallibility must preach the entire Word of God since we hold that all Scripture is breathed out by God (2 Timothy 3:16).  This means that what God said in Genesis 1:1 is just as true as what He said in John 1:1 or Revelation 22:21.  We must be faithful to glorify God through faithfully teaching the people of God His Word.  The duty of the Bible teacher is to explain Scripture.  It is not to entertain nor to be a “life coach” or a pulpit psychologist.  Our duty before God is to speak the words of God (James 3:1).  We must read, study, pray over, and exhort from the Scriptures.  This is our passion, delight, and duty.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

07/12/2013 at 9:22 AM

History and the Bible

I am convinced that history and the Bible go hand in hand.  I have been reading Doug Wilson’s excellent book, Black & Tan: A Collection of Essays and Excursions on Slavery, Culture War, and Scripture in America.  The book focuses on the history of race in the United States.  I enjoy Dr. Wilson’s writing style, humor, and honesty.

In the beginning of the book, Wilson states that all preachers should be amateur historians.  I agree.  His reason is that we learn from history.  He asks questions like, “What is a Wesleyan?” or “What makes us separate from Rome?” or “Why do some churches go down front to be saved while others do not?”  He believes the answers are found in history.  One can make a defense from the Bible but we learn from history where we come from and why we are what we are.  He also points to the fact that the Bible is a history book.  The main focus of the Bible is the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ which was a historical event that transformed history forever.  Our love for Jesus begins with an event that happened in time and space.  Christianity finds its power not from the teachings of Jesus primarily but from a historical event, His resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:3-11, 17).  Peter likewise states in 2 Peter 1:16-21 that his focus begins in history with the Lord Jesus and His fulfillment of prophetic Scripture.  This took place in history so history must be important.

I love history.  Always have.  Last week my family and I ventured down to Charleston, SC (which is only about a 2 hour drive for us).  We spent most of our time at Sullivan’s Island which is where Fort Moultrie is.  Fort Moultrie was not just the site of the famous firing on Fort Sumter that launched the American Civil War in April 1861.  Fort Moultrie saw action and use in every American war until it was officially closed by the US Army in 1947.  We visited the site and found not just information about the Civil War but also how the Fort was used during WWII to help defend the Charleston harbor from German U-boats.  History has a way of coming alive when you visit famous sites such as Fort Moultrie or Fort Sumter or Plymouth rock in Massachusetts.  I have also visited several Civil War sites including Gettysburg, First Bull Run, and Montgomery.  I have visited Washington DC, Boston, New York City, Atlanta, and several other historical cities.  I love to read history but I love to see history.

When it comes to theology, history is important.  As Wilson stated above, how can we understand many of our denominations without studying revivals or divisions from whence they came.  I have been also reading Frank Bartleman’s account of the Azusa Street revival.  His account helps one to understand where the Pentecostals came from and why they believe what they believe.  When one looks at the various types of church government in the evangelical church such as elder led in the Presbyterian church or congregational led in the Baptist church, one need only look at where these movements came from and you’ll see that they often reflect the culture that they came from.

History informs us not just about movements but also practices.  From the altar call to the seeker movement, these are found in history and reflect the cultures in which they came from.  Even movements such as the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) find their roots in history.  They came forth during a time in American history when modernity was gripping the church.  The IFB is a reactionary movement that finds its roots in the early 20th century when Darwinian evolution and prohibition were sweeping the nation.  Men such as Billy Sunday became the leaders of the IFB along with men such as J. Frank Norris and William Jennings Bryant.  Sunday reflected the early IFB rages against modernity.  All of this comes from history and when you study this time period, you begin to see why the IFB is like it is today.  Why does, for example, the IFB practice what they call “biblical separation“?  History helps you to know.

I encourage you read and study history.  You’ll learn where you came from in the process.  You’ll learn about your culture and about your own values.  You’ll learn much about the Church and why she is the way that she is.  You’ll learn that all of history ultimately belongs to God who rules over history.  As Wilson points out about race issues, in Christ we begin to see that blacks are helpful to whites and whites are helpful to blacks but this must begin with Christ and Christ must be our focus.  Wilson believes, and I do too, that race cannot be helped or healed by history because history is full of hypocrisy on both sides but in Christ, we can begin to redeem history and show the world that Jesus makes all things new (2 Corinthians 5:17) and that in Jesus Christ, we are all one (Galatians 3:26-29).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

05/13/2013 at 4:11 PM

%d bloggers like this: