Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Arminianism (a second clarification)

I suggested in a previous post, without stating it definitely, that this certain source was rather mis-representing Arminianism. Following that post, I first compared the document with Non-Calvinist-Christian doctrine. Now I have actually responded with quotes of Arminius himself. You decide for yourself whether it matches the document, or whether the document misrepresents the Arminian position.

Point 1: Partial Depravity/Free will

The Claim: The Arminians adopted views that paralleled the work of Erasmus, believing that man possesses a free and independent will. By this it is meant that in Eden, man's fall only partially affected his ability to choose.

Arminius says: In this state, the free will of man towards the true good is not only wounded, maimed, infirm, bent, and weakened; but it is also imprisoned, destroyed, and lost. And its powers are not only debilitated and useless unless they be assisted by grace, but it has no powers whatever except such as are excited by Divine grace.

The Claim: The will of man is neutral and not determined by his nature, therefore it is autonomous and free of any binding persuasion toward unrighteousness and sin.

Arminius says: Exactly correspondent to this darkness of the mind, and perverseness of the heart, is the utter weakness of all the powers to perform that which is truly good, and to omit the perpetration of that which is evil, in a due mode and from a due end and cause. The subjoined sayings of Christ serve to describe this impotence. "A corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit."

Point 3: Universal Atonement

The Claim: The Arminian believes that in order to accommodate man's free will, Christ took to the cross the sins of every human being without exception.

Arminius says: Is not the redemption which has been obtained by the blood of Christ, common to every man in particular, according to the love and affection of God by which he gave his Son for the world, though, according to the peremptory decree concerning the salvation of believers alone, it belongs only to some men? [Thus it was not in order to accommodate man's free will, but rather to please Himself and His love and affection that Christ paid His blood to redeem men.]

The Claim: The death of Christ does not save any individual, rather it makes salvation possible for every individual.

Arminius says: That agreeably thereunto, Jesus Christ the Savior of the world, died for all men and for every man, so that he has obtained for them all, by his death on the cross, redemption and the forgiveness of sins; yet that no one actually enjoys this forgiveness of sins except the believer. [Which is to say that the death of Christ does save some. It provides salvation for all, and procures salvation for the believer.]

The Claim: The cross is thereby limited as to its nature, becoming an incomplete work, ineffectual until completed by the free will work of man. It is the free will choice of man to accept Christ's work that completes salvation (e.g. man's decision to receive Christ accomplishes, secures, and completes an atonement which Christ did not "finish" at Calvary Himself.)

Arminius says: The strength and efficacy of the death of Christ consist in the abolishing of sin and death, and of the law, which is "the hand-writing that is against us;" and the strength or force of sin is that by which sin kills us. The efficacious benefits of the death of Christ which believers enjoy through communion with it, are principally the following: The First is the removal of the curse, which we had deserved through sin. This includes, or has connected with it, our reconciliation with God, perpetual redemption, remission of sins, and justification...

The second is deliverance from the dominion and slavery of sin, that sin may no longer exercise its power in our crucified, dead and buried body of sin, to obtain its desires by the obedience which we have usually yielded to it in our body of sin, according to the old man.
[It is Christ's effective and complete work which results in, among other things, even deliverance from the dominion of sin - which implies it is not man's work, but Christ's completely.]

Point 4: Resistible/Obstructable Grace

The Claim: The Arminian believes that the Holy Spirit merely woos the man, but salvation rests ultimately upon that man's free will response to the Holy Spirit's persuasion.

Arminius says: For all created things depend (rest ultimately) upon the Divine Power

The Claim: The free will of man can and does thwart and refuse the work of the Holy Spirit in salvation.

Arminius says: This is therefore called "the sin against the Holy Ghost, not because it is not perpetrated against the Father and the Son; (for how can it be that he does not sin against the Father and the Son, who sins against the Spirit of both?) but because it is committed against the operation of the Holy Spirit, that is, against the conviction of the truth through miracles, and against the illumination of the mind. (This is to say that it is not a refusal of the salvific purpose of the Holy Spirit, but against conviction. This is not "thwarting" but "blaspheming" and is the un-forgivable sin.)

The Claim: It is man's volition, or willingness to cooperate with God that can either support or frustrate God's desire to save.

Arminius says: ...Not impelled by necessity, as if He was unable to complete his own work without the aid of the creature; but through a desire to demonstrate his manifold wisdom.

The Claim: With this concept of salvation great importance and weight is laid upon the work of man...

Arminius says: From which the former is called "the law of works," but the Gospel "the law of faith," [Weight is laid on faith, and not the work on man]

The Claim: The Arminian believes that faith precedes regeneration, and is the cause of regeneration, giving, as it were, the go-ahead to the Holy Spirit to do His assigned work.

Arminius says: ...that we may distinguish it from Regeneration which is "the act of God." [the cause is God]

That predestination is the decree of the good pleasure of God, in Christ, by which he determined, within himself, from all eternity, to justify believers, to adopt them, and to endow them with eternal life, "to the praise of the glory of his grace," and even for the declaration of his justice. [God caused it because of His own good pleasure]

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