Arminian Today

A Jesus-Centered Arminian Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Synod of Dort

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.

Pray For Those Whom You Disagree

Jesus taught us in Matthew 5:44 to pray for our enemies.  He said, “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”  Adam Clarke offers sound advice about this when he writes,

This is another exquisitely reasonable precept. I cannot change that wicked man’s heart; and while it is unchanged he will continue to harass me: God alone can change it: then I must implore him to do that which will at once secure the poor man’s salvation, and contribute so much to my own peace.

We Christians have not always obeyed this verse very well.  Like other humans, we can want revenge or to gloat over the fall of our enemies.  We enjoy watching people fail.  We enjoy it when we see people fall into sin.  This should not be but it is the truth.

Church History is also full of the evils we have done toward others.  Whether it be Martin Luther’s hatred for the Jews and his call to attack them or John Calvin’s treatment of the heretic Michael Servetus, we have a history of persecution.  During the Reformation, the reformers often called for the persecution of the Anabaptists.  Arminius was more charitable toward the Anabaptists though he disagreed with them.

After the infamous Synod of Dort, the victorious Calvinists took to persecuting Arminians.  Arminian pastors were forbidden from preaching, their churches were either burned or closed, and one Arminian at the Synod of Dort lost his head for his faith.  The persecution was intense against the Arminians.

At the turn of the 20th century, the Pentecostals faced persecution from other Christians.  Baptists and even Holiness churches persecuted the Pentecostals.  In the South, the KKK tormented the Pentecostals and burned their churches.  Men such as G. Campbell Morgan called the Pentecostal movement, “the vomit of Satan.”

Again, we have not done a good job in history of living out Matthew 5:44.

My first advice in living out Matthew 5:44 is to pray for those whom you disagree.  How often do you pray for those whom you dislike because of their beliefs?  How often do you pray for Muslims or for Hindus to be saved?  Do you pray for the Islamic terrorists to come to faith in Christ?  Do you pray, like Paul in Romans 10:1, for the Jew to be saved?  Do you pray for all men to be saved (1 Timothy 2:1-6)?  Do you cry out for the glory of God to be revealed through those whom you disagree such as other disciples but different from you theologically?  For example, I disagree with Calvinism but this does not keep me from praying for and loving Calvinists.  I pray often for open air preachers I know who are Reformed in their theology and perhaps would not even sit at a table with me for my Arminianism but I pray for them and ask our Father to use them for His glory.

The sad history of the Church has seen too much violence toward those whom we disagree.  We need a time of peace and a time where we show the world the truth of John 13:34-35.  I am not saying that we lay down our theology for some sort of fake love.  I am saying that we need to pray for those whom we believe are damned or simply whom we disagree.  We are quick to write a blog post on a brother or sister but are we so quick to pray for them?   We cast judgment on people all the time but are we praying and interceding for them to know the truth of God?  We say we believe in a God who hears and answers prayer.  Then show it.  Pray for those whom you disagree and ask the Lord to transform their heart (2 Timothy 2:24-26).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

11/03/2013 at 10:50 PM

Arminius the Rebel?

When people fail to study Church History, they fail to see their own ignorance and errors.  Arminius is a case in point.  It is amazing to me how many people I see on the Internet or even have spoken with who believe many lies about Arminius.  Some lies about Arminius are just ignorance to his times such as some teaching that Arminius opposed Calvin when in fact Calvin died when Arminius was but a toddler.  Arminius never met Calvin.  Arminius though did study under Calvin’s son-in-law, Beza, and was appointed by Beza to argue against the Anabaptists.

Some assume that Arminius was nothing more than an agitator, a rebel at heart and practice.  Some assume that Arminius was a champion of free will and made mankind his focal point of his studies and thus he turned to humanism and embraced a false theology that robs God of His glory and splendor.  Others falsely assume that Arminius liked being a rebel and wanted the attention.

None of these lies are true.

Arminius began his ministerial life as a Calvinist.  He had studied under Beza in Geneva and was one of their top students.  Arminius was a brilliant man and the Calvinists of his day recognized this.  He returned to his home country in the Netherlands where he took up pastoring.  His church was full as Arminius became one of the most popular preachers of his day.  The controversy that would become “Arminianism” began when Arminius was preaching through the book of Romans.  He came to Romans 7 and he differed with the Calvinistic view of his day that said that the man of Romans 7 was a saved man who struggled with sin.  Arminius disagreed and taught that Paul was describing his own sinful condition before his salvation.  Arminius had come to this viewpoint after his debates with the Anabaptists who also held to this position.  Arminius in turn preached his new convictions about Romans 7 before his church.  The sermons were very popular and became known.  This led to Calvinists contacting him about his views regarding Romans 7.  One simply did not disagree with Geneva in those days.

From Romans 7, Arminius went on to preach against the popular Calvinist view of Romans 9-11, that it teaches unconditional personal election.  Arminius disagreed and he proceeded to preach conditional election.  He also began to preach that Jesus died for all and that all can be saved through faith and repentance.  He called for the church to not believe a doctrine just because the catechisms teach this.  Preach the Word of God and believe the Word of God would be the motto of Arminius.

So was Arminius then a rebel?  Much of what we know of Arminius comes to us by his personal writings.  They are not sermons.  They are not as lengthy as the works of Calvin or Luther so we are limited in how we can understand this man.  But what we do gleam from Arminius is a man who was a deep thinker, a man who preached the Word of God and loved the Word of God, and a man who was not ashamed to state his views nor defend them.  We don’t find a man hungry for controversy.  We find a man hungry to communicate the Word of God.  Arminius praised both Calvin and Beza in his writings.  He commended the works of Calvin and his commentaries even while he disagreed with Calvin over some issues.  In his personal debates (through letters) with other Calvinists, Arminius was gracious and loving toward them.  He did not attack them but did attack their views by appealing to Scripture, reason, and to the Church Fathers.

I have seen some mean things written about Arminius.  One Calvinist blogger (who also holds that only Calvinists are saved) wrote that he believed Arminius is in hell and he was happy to think that.  He wrote, “The thought that Arminius sought to destroy the Church of God must be replaying over and over in his mind while he burns.”  Another Calvinist blogger wrote, “Arminius sought to destroy the work of God that He had begun with Calvin in the restoration of His true church.  Praise God that the Lord killed Arminius and then ended the heresy of Arminianism at the Synod of Dort.”

Now that sort of misled thinking is not rampant among Calvinists so please don’t confuse them for speaking for Calvinism.  Sadly, while Knox, Luther, Calvin, and Tyndale are upheld as “reformers” who are worthy to be praised, Arminius is often not found.  I understand that historically the Synod of Dort was a “victory” for Calvinism but Arminius was not even present at the Synod.  He had died before the Synod convened.  Arminius, if you read his writings, was a man who was passionate for the truth of God and was not bent on rebellion or even to attack Calvin.  His goal was simple: obedience to the Word of God.

I pray that Arminians and Calvinists alike will follow Arminius’ example there and seek to obey the Word of God at all costs even if it runs contrary to what is popularly taught in the Church.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/27/2013 at 10:30 AM

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