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Posts Tagged ‘Society of Evangelical Arminians

Quick Overview of the FACTS of Arminianism

The FACTS of Arminianism are:

Freed by Grace (to Believe)

Atonement for All

Conditional Election

Total Depravity

Security in Christ

The acronym parallels the famous TULIP developed after the Synod of Dort and now known as the five points of Calvinism.  However, not all Calvinists would agree that the five points sum up their theology.  I had a college professor who said he was a 7-point Calvinist and not a 5-pointer.  I have also seen where some even say that they are 10-point Calvinists.

Arminianism is based on the teachings of Arminius as well as the five points that the Remonstrants brought to the Synod of Dort (1618-1619).  Historically, it was Arminianism that had its five points before Calvinism developed its five points however I will acknowledge that the TULIP is the greatest known acronym in theology.  I pray to God that the FACTS of Arminianism will help people better grasp what it is that Arminians (such as myself) truly hold to.  Arminianism has sadly been abused and often twisted by her opponents and not given a fair understanding in theological debates.

In comparison to the five points of Calvinism, we are not as far from each other as it might seem.  Calvinists could read over the five points above and would disagree with atonement for all, conditional election, and possibly with freed by grace but they would accept (I suppose) our view of depravity and security (though some would hold to “once saved, always saved” and we would disagree).  However, while Calvinists will often say that their theology is completely monergistic and view Arminians as synergists, this would not be the case.  Arminianism is full of grace.  The entire notion our theological understanding is that God is the one who first must act.  This is not about man.  This is not about glorifying flesh.  God acted first toward Adam and Eve and their posterity (Genesis 3) and He continues to reach out to lost humanity through the gospel (Romans 10:14-17).  The cross is an act of grace in which the Lord Jesus bore the sins of humanity upon Himself (John 1:29; 1 John 2:2; 4:14).

In reality, Arminianism is monergistic itself.  We hold that God is the one who works.  When a person believes the gospel, they do so by God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8-9).  Faith is not a merit or work (Romans 4:5).  Even Calvinist theologian R.C. Sproul acknowledged that faith is not monergistic.  Sproul instead holds that regeneration is monergistic and I would not disagree.  It is clear that regeneration is the work of the Spirit of God (John 3:3-7; Titus 3:5-7) and not our work.  However, I would disagree with Sproul that regeneration precedes faith since faith produces regeneration (Acts 16:30-34; 1 Corinthians 1:21; Ephesians 1:13).

In my next post, I want to begin to work through the FACTS of Arminianism point by point.  Along the way I will interact with Calvinism but my main goal is to show what we Arminians truly believe.

Arminianism and the Penal Substitutionary View of the Atonement

Here is a great article written by Dr. James Leonard on the subject of the atonement of Jesus Christ and the penal substitutionary view.  Some Calvinists contend that not only is the penal view the only view of the atonement that is truly biblically based but also one cannot hold to the penal view and not hold to definite atonement (or limited atonement).  I know this has confused some Arminians to the point that they now reject the penal view in favor of the moral governmental view.

Dr. Leonard’s piece is well written and draws upon Arminianism to show that an Arminian can safely hold to the penal view while rejecting limited atonement.

The FACTS of Salvation

Here is a link to an excellent article written by the Society of Evangelical Arminians (SEA) president, Dr. Brian Abasciano.  The article is a defense of classical Arminianism in its evangelical form.  I highly recommend it for reading and study.

You can find the article here.

Praying for the Lost by Brian Abasciano

Dr. Roger Olson is making headlines among the theology blogs for writing a post on how he feels that Arminians are not being consistent when praying for the Lord to save the lost.  Dr. Olson’s contention is that this is not consistent with Arminian theology and practice.

The Society of Evangelical Arminian has released the following post from Brian Abasciano, the president of the SEA.  The post is entitled, Arminians Can Be Consistent and Pray for God to Save the Lost.  This is an excellent rebuttal to Dr. Olson’s post.  Brian Abasciano does a good job in a short post of presenting the biblical basis for not only praying for God to save the lost but he also demonstrates that this is still consistent with Arminianism.

Over the years I have seen Calvinists place this argument out there before as well.  The argument is that Arminians are not being consistent in their theology by asking God to save a person.  This would imply that we believe that God would save a person against their free will and thus we deny our belief in free will.  We also would be implying by praying for the lost to be saved that God alone saves sinners by His sovereign power and grace.  This would imply that we reject irresistible grace while yet holding to it since we are praying for the Lord to save a sinner who is against Him by bringing Him to Christ through His power.

Is that really the case?  Do Arminians really believe all the above?  You should read the article to learn the accurate Arminian view.

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

ARMINIANISM

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).

CALVINISM

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

The Society of Evangelical Arminians: The Best Source for Arminian Theology

If you are unfamiliar with Arminian theology, the best source on-line for studying Arminian theology is the Society of Evangelical Arminians (SEA) that I am proud to be a part of.  Many of my fellow Arminian friends from across the United States and around the world all provide various articles addressing Arminianism as well as countering Calvinism.  I read from the SEA each day and enjoy learning much about my own theology.  You can go directly to the SEA site here.

The best source for studying Calvinism, in my opinion, is to visit Monergism.com.  Monergism features vast amounts of articles written by Calvinists to defend Calvinism and to counter Arminianism and other theological systems that oppose Calvinism.  Monergism also has many audio lectures.  I do enjoy the fact that Monergism opposes hyper-Calvinism.

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