Friday, March 11, 2011

Folk Arminianism

Christendom is filled with what I call "folk Arminians." These are the people who have been reared under faulty theology and have never been exposed to Calvinism. They often hold to mutually exclusive positions, simply for the lack of systematic thinking. They gladly affirm that "without Him we can do nothing," yet they simultaneously stress that God has given us free-will and we must make the best use of it by making right decisions. I have heard pastors preach one week that God has a people chosen to salvation, a people chosen before time began; only to turn around the very next Sunday and preach that God has done His part, not it's up to you to do your part so that Christ's death won't have been in vain. They affirm election one week only to deny it the next. These are the same people who teach their children to sing "Father Abraham" and yet repudiate Covenant Theology by refusing the sacrament of baptism to their children.

This is simply the result of poor teaching and poor study habits. Much of the American clergy is largely uneducated theologically. Doctrine is considered obtuse and unnecessary; after all, 'doctrine divides.' It is frequently assumed that the call to ministry negates the need for preparation. Christian ministry is the only field in which this idea is tolerated. Imagine going to your doctor for an appendectomy to find out that he laid his hand on a rock, locked up in the sky and declared, "I am a surgeon!" You would head for the hills, if you had an ounce of brains. And for good reason! You would like to know beforehand that you auto mechanic relies on more than having played with Matchbox cars as a kid as his credentials for rebuilding your transmission. Now, let these unprepared clergy run wild in a pulpit, teaching little more than practical applications (read: pietism) and you will have a congregation full of people who are as muddleheaded as their pastor: folk Arminians - Arminians who don’t know that that's what they are.

I have no doubt that many of these folk are truly saved, because I believe in the sovereignty of God. It is the well-informed Arminian that worries me. I truly worry about the spiritual state of the man who has been presented with all the Scriptural evidence for a Calvinist soteriology, who 'kicks against the goads' and argues for the supremacy and primacy of human choice and free-will, who take salvation out of God's hands and puts it into man's.

4 comments:

  1. You are correct. However, I have also discovered that people tend to have better heart-theology than their head-theology. For example, even the most vociferous Arminian prays for the salvation of loved ones. As you point out, sloppy thinking keeps that Arminian from recognizing the contradiction.

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  2. This is so very true....I even had a well educated Calvinist pastor chide me for insisting that an educated clergy is a necessity!

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  3. "I have heard pastors preach one week that God has a people chosen to salvation, a people chosen before time began; only to turn around the very next Sunday and preach that God has done His part, not it's up to you to do your part so that Christ's death won't have been in vain. They affirm election one week only to deny it the next."

    I hear this at my churh every month -

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  4. If the average Evangelical went to a surgeon to have an even routine procedure done, and found out that the doctor simply "felt the call," skipped medical school because that would slow him down (and get him to needy people sooner), bought a scalpel set and a copy of Grey's Anatomy and set up shop - the patient would run for the hills. Yet these same Evangelicals feel absolutely comfortable entrusting the training of their minds and the care of their souls to men who have the same amount and quality of preparation as our hypothetical self-ordained doctor.

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