Monday, March 28, 2011

Arminianism's Two Goals

Several years ago I read John Owen's book "A Display of Arminianism." The most amazing thing to me about that book was the charts Owen put together juxtaposing Scripture with Arminianism. He did not tear down straw men, either. The statements of Arminian belief he presented came right from the horses' mouth. Owen culled statements from all the leading Arminians and then placed these statements in a grid with a passge of Scripture right next to the quote in order to demonstrate the utterly unbiblical nature of Arminianism.

I have recently been rereading the "Display." This time I have been struck by Owen's ability to get to the bottom of Arminianism. He takes on over a dozen features of Arminian theology (there's an oxymoron!) and roundly demolishes them all. But right from the beginning of the book, Owen has given us a heads-up about what is really at stake with Arminianism. What are they really after, they who promote this error? What are they trying to achieve?

To this question, Owen gives a two-fold answer. He says that behind all the artifice and ediface, Arminianism is simply an attempt to do two things: 1. Exempt man from God's jurisdiction, and 2. Deny man's utter and total depravity

To achieve the first goal Arminianism must deny the eternity and unchangeableness of God's decrees; muddy the waters by questioning God's foreknowledge; deny God's sovereign providence as the King of the universe; and deny the irresistibility and uncontrollable power of God's will. Every Arminian theologian who has ever lived is guilty on all four counts.

Think about for a moment and it should strike terror into your heart to realize that a so-called Christian feels comfortable denying God's power, authority, sovereignty.

To achieve their second goal, Arminians must: 1. Deny the doctrine of predestination. 2. Deny Original Sin. 3. Deny that human nature abhors the law of God. 4 Deny the merit and efficacy of Christ's death. 5. Deny that one must exercise conscious faith in Christ for salvation. 6. Extol free-will with a multitude of exaggerated traits. 7. Claim that free-will is active and operative in salvation by preparing us, disposing us and working out our salvation.

Again, they are guilt on all counts. It is not uncommon to run into Arminians who pay lip-service to terms like predestination or Original Sin, but when pressed for a definition, they explain these ideas in ways that are anything but orthodox. Not surpisingly, this second goal seems to be where most of their effort is spent. One never runs into an Arminian but the subject of "free-will" comes up.

When I was in high school, I remember a very ignorant man (as I later discovered him to be) claim that Calvinism was a very logically consistent system, but that it was built more on the force of logic than on Scripture. Arminianism, it was claimed, was not always consistent, but it was always Scriptural. As I have gotten older and studied doctrine more, I have found that that statement is almost exactly backwards. Arminianism always argues from the quasi-logical premises that God created man with free-will and the power of self-determination; that the only way to be fair and just is to place all men on equal footing (by which artifice they reject Predestination and Election); and that God wouldn't command anything unless everyone was fully capable of obeying. If you start from these premises, then Arminianism is the logically inescapable conclusion. However we should first inquire whether there is any biblical warrant to assume such premises. There is none. And so it turns out that Calvinism is indeed logically consistent precisely because it IS Scriptural.

When Arminians face the bar of Scripture accused of trying to squirm out from under God's jurisdiction and minimizing the sinful and evil nature of mankind, they are found guilty on all counts. When one asks why would anyone dream up a system with such aims one gets a quite simple and straightforward answer about the origin of such a scheme of doctrine.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Visitor Counter

Flag Counter