Arminian Today

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Posts Tagged ‘Theological Debates

Short Thoughts on the Inclusive/Exclusive Debate

I have been enjoying the lively debate over at the Society of Evangelical Arminians site on the issue of inclusive and exclusive positions of the gospel.  Kevin Jackson from Wesleyan Arminian wrote a good piece defending the inclusive position and the response by Brendan Burnett.  You can find the first post here and the response here.

While I will not rehash the arguments Kevin gives nor the response that Brendan gives, I will add my own two cents worth.

First, I take serious the words of Christ in all four Gospels to take the gospel to all the nations (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47-48; John 20:21).  Acts 1:8 likewise commands the disciples to take the gospel to all nations.  This is a serious command of our Lord and not to be taken lightly.  The fact is that the Church is to take the gospel out.  Sadly, in our day, many want to have the world come to us.  The reality is that the gospel is to be preached to all nations.  This command of Jesus is vital if in fact Jesus is the only way to the Father and the gospel must be heard and believed for people to saved.

Secondly, 1 Timothy 4:10 implies that Christ is the Savior of all men but especially of those who believe.  Adam Clarke writes, “[God] has provided salvation for the whole human race, and has freely offered it to them in His Word and by His Spirit.  What God intends for all He actually gives to them that believe in Christ.”  Christ shed His blood for all men but only those who appropriate His blood through faith are saved (Romans 3:24-25).

Thirdly, Romans 10:14-17 implies the necessity of the preaching of the gospel for people to be saved.  Romans 10:17 specifically calls for saving faith to be acted through the preaching of Christ.  As Clarke again writes, “Preaching the gospel is the ordinary means of salvation; faith in Christ is the result of hearing the word, the doctrine of God preached.”

Fourthly, 1 Timothy 2:4 implies that the will of God is for the salvation of all but 1 Timothy 2:5-6 is clear that Christ alone is our mediator before God.  Paul the Apostle goes on in verse 7 to say that this is why he was appointed to preach the gospel to the Gentiles thus implying that their only hope was Christ.

And lastly, I believe the Bible is serious about the issue of sin.  It is not merely ignorance about God that keeps people from Him.  It is our sins.  In fact, Romans 1:18 says that our sins bring the wrath of God and Romans 1:20 says that people are without excuse.  The fact is that we love our sins and we love our depravity.  Apart from the work of the Spirit, none of us would or could be saved.  We are simply too sinful to seek a holy God.  Instead, humanity seeks false gods of their own creations.  The gospel alone is able to break the power of our sins and bring peace with God (John 6:44).

I know these are short thoughts.  I hope I am not demeaning Kevin in this post.  He is a good brother.  I was pondering this issue this morning and just wanted to jot these downs.  Two books to read on this issue are: Faith Comes by Hearing and Eternity In Their Hearts.

Do Your Homework Before Saying It

How often have I been told by someone, “Well you Arminians believe this….” and then they incorrectly summarize what we Arminians supposedly believe.  They are nearly always wrong.

My advice is for both Arminians and Calvinists to not make up teachings about one another.  How often have I heard a Calvinist Bible teacher state that Arminians believe this and that about free will or about the nature of salvation when in fact they are not revealing what Arminius taught about the issue but usually what a semi-Pelagian believes.  Arminius was not a Pelagian nor was he even semi-Pelagian.  He was clearly among the Reformed brethren in his views regarding the sovereignty of God, the nature of mankind, the utter sinfulness of mankind, the nature of God’s grace in our salvation, the finished work of Christ, etc.

So let us both strive to be biblical and not to just come up with what an Arminian or Calvinist believes without first doing some homework.  I would urge my Calvinist friends to read the works of Arminius and learn Arminianism from him.  I would likewise urge my fellow Arminians to read and study Calvin.  I have been begging my wife to purchase Calvin’s commentaries for my birthday this year.  Maybe so.  I hope so.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

09/07/2013 at 3:30 AM

Being Careful With Who Defines A Movement

Some men have been leaders of movements.  Few would doubt that Martin Luther was a leader of the Reformation.  John Calvin was the leader of Geneva.  Men such as William Carey were leaders.  Charles Finney was a leader of the “new methods” of revival movement.  John Wesley and George Whitefield were leaders of the early Methodists.  William Seymour was the leader of the Azusa Street Mission which launched the modern-day Pentecostal movement.  Even today we have men such as Mark Driscoll, Matt Chandler or John Piper who are recognized leaders of the “young, restless, and reformed movement.”  Men lead movements.

But we must be careful with whom we label the “leader” of a movement.  For instance, it would be unfair to say that Martin Luther was the only leader of the Reformation.  Others were involved but history seems to only remember Luther.  Luther, however, is not the end all to the Reformation.  While his writings and sermons have value and their place in the Reformation, the Reformation is not Luther and Luther is not the Reformation.  Many others would follow who would not agree with Luther fully such as John Calvin (who would disagree with Luther over the atonement and perseverance of the saints).  Arminius would differ with Luther over unconditional election and the man of Romans 7.  John Wesley would disagree with Luther over sanctification and the nature of cleansing from sin.  Alexander Campbell would have disagreed with Luther over baptism by immersion and whether we should baptize adults only.  The debates are many with many leaders behind the debates.

In our day we are hearing much about the charismatic movement once again.  When I was saved back in 1992, the debate was raging among evangelicals and Pentecostals over spiritual gifts, the baptism with the Spirit, etc.  Shorty after I was saved, I went to visit a local bookstore and was struck by the section “charismatic” (as I was attending an Assemblies of God church).  I had heard the term at our church and so I looked through the books with authors such as T.L. Osborne, Kenneth Hagin, and Kenneth Copeland.  I had not heard of any of them.  I picked up a book by Hagin on faith and took it home to read.  I carried the book with me to church and wise brother asked to see what I was reading.  I showed him the book and he wisely showed me the flaws of Hagin’s thinking.  He told me to avoid the “charismatic” books as they were often plagued with false teachings and poor exegesis of Scripture.

Now I could have, at this point, thought that Copeland, Hagin, Dollar, Hinn, etc. all defined the charismatic movement. They did not and do not now.

I believe we should debate the issue of the gifts of the Spirit.  I have no problem with conferences devoted to studying the person and work of the Holy Spirit and correcting views that may or may not line up with Scripture.  I believe that theological debates are good and needed.  After all, the great doctrines of our faith have often come from debates such as the Trinity, justification by faith, the mode of baptism and its purpose, etc.  Theological debates often were settled in Church history through great councils.  We read even in Acts 15 of the council in Jerusalem where they debated the salvation of the Gentiles and the keeping of the Law of Moses.  Councils and conferences are welcomed for the purpose of sorting out doctrinal teachings.

However, we must not allow a few people to define a movement.  I listened to a cessationist brother teaching on the charismatic movement recently and he had numerous quotes from the likes of Benny Hinn, Copeland, Hagin, Todd Bentley, and Jack Hayford.  Do these men alone define the charismatic movement?  I don’t think so.  In fact, I assure you that the teachers at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary (AGTS) or the Church of God Theological Seminary would denounce the teachings of nearly all of those men (with the exception of Hayford who is respected among Pentecostals to this day).  I believe a person should not use Kenneth Copeland or Joel Osteen to define the Pentecostal movement.  One would build a better hearing among Pentecostals by debating the writings of a Stanley Horton or a Donald Gee or a E.S. Williams than Hagin or Fred Price.

Would Calvinists want Mark Driscoll or even worse, Fred Phelps, to represent modern Calvinism?  Would Arminians want Roger Olson to speak for us all?  I don’t think we would.  We must be careful to seek to not allow one or two people to define a movement.  We must examine the theologians of the movement before we try to isolate the nuts in the movement and say that the nuts speak for the movement when they do not.

That is, of course, my own opinion.  You are allowed to disagree but you would be wrong.  🙂

Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/26/2013 at 1:07 PM

Dr. Michael Brown vs. Bruce Bennett on Divine Election

Here is the video from the recent debate between Dr. Michael Brown (Arminian) versus Bruce Bennett (Calvinist) over the subject of, “Who Makes the Final Choice in Salvation – God or Man?”  I was blessed to see how this debate, as with Dr. James White, unfolds.  It is clear that we can debate each other will respecting each other in Christ.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

05/16/2013 at 8:12 PM

We Cannot Reason Together If…

We cannot reason together if we both begin our discussions with our views being the gospel.  Yet if we can begin our discussions with the Bible being our point of agreement and that we would agree to look at the Scriptures with exegesis and time and grace, we might could agree or at least see the other’s point of view.  I am convinced that this is why debates on Twitter or Facebook or other online sources are not the best places to debate.  Even on blogs, we don’t know each other, we don’t see each other, we don’t know if we are being understood or whether the other person is debating with a kindred spirit.  I am not saying that we there should be no debates but merely that it is likely that nothing will be accomplished unless we can sit and discuss these things face to face.

Is this why the early Church Fathers had councils?  I know that Arminius debated several through letters but even there we find a much calmer spirit than what I see in many Arminian-Calvinists debate online today.  What I find is much rhetoric, much personal attacks, many questions but few answers.

The best debate, in my opinion, is with a brother (or sister if you are a sister) who loves you and loves Jesus.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

04/25/2013 at 5:11 PM

Questions for Calvinists

Here are some questions I found on the Internet.  While I didn’t agree with the totality of the article, I found the following questions to be interesting.

1.  Why preach ‘repent or perish’ when the non-elect can’t repent and the elect can’t perish?

2.  How can God hold the non-elect responsible for ‘not believing’ and damn them for it, when He deliberately did not give them the faith to enable them to believe in the first place?

3.  If Christ has already made an efficacious atonement for the sins of an elect person, is that elect person actually lost during the period prior to their being saved?

4.  During the period before an elect person gets saved, how are they condemned already (for not believing) when their unbelief (which is a sin) has already been paid for by Christ on the cross?

5.  If repentance is a gift only given to the elect, what did Jesus mean when He said that some of the people in hell would have repented if they had had the same opportunity as the people to whom He preached?

6.  Why does the Spirit of God strive and convict some sinners who later prove, by dying and going to hell, that they were non-elect? What is the purpose of such movings of the Spirit?

Let me see if I can answer the questions as a Calvinist would.

1.  Because God said so (Matthew 28:19).  It is simply our job to preach the gospel to all but to allow the Lord to use it to save the elect (John 6:37; 2 Timothy 2:10).

2.  All people are born sinners.  Therefore, that God saves only a few and condemns the rest is up to Him.  He could choose to save none but He has chosen a remnant of grace (Romans 11:5-6).  We are condemned period.  That He shows us mercy is love divine!

3.  Yes.

4.  It is God’s chosen way.  Some Calvinists believe in eternal justification and some believe that we are born sinless because of Christ.  The majority of Calvinists would say that Christ did die for the sin of unbelief because He knew that there would be unbelief in your heart and mine.

5.  It was merely a statement about judgment and about not rejecting Christ who was there in the flesh.

6.  Only those who are elect will remain.  The non-elect, despite sometimes even giving assurance to salvation, will not endure.  They are false converts.  They are not regenerate and are lost.  Judas was such a case along with other false disciples (John 6:60-71; Acts 1:25).

Don’t know how I did since I am not a Calvinist but I sought to answer them as I knew Calvinists would.  I do find the questions intriguing.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

04/19/2013 at 10:22 AM

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