In recent years it has become more and more in vogue to reinterpret the past. We know it as “revisionism.” We have all probably encountered re-interpretations of the lives of our national heroes such as Washington and Lincoln, which, if true, it is a wonder that these men were ever admired in the first place. I have little doubt that this is all fueled by the desires of degenerate men and women in our times, who wish to project their wickedness and abominable behaviors into the past, in order to lessen the stench of their own lives.
With the unregenerate, while it is still a vile, deceitful practice, it is understandable. If you can make it appear that in the midst of the Puritan era of England and America men and women were routinely engaged in adultery, fornication and sodomy (and that this behavior was normal, acceptable and unjudged), this certainly makes modern moralists appear idiotic.
As already stated, with the unregenerate, historical revision is understandable, though still despicable. What is not understandable is when so-called Christians revise Church history. Every now and then some ‘reputable’ scholar revisits the life of a notorious person from Church history and suggests rethinking the man’s life and/or doctrine.
I have recently encountered papers written by professing Reformed theologians suggesting that perhaps Arminius has been misunderstood. Having read many of Arminius’ contemporaries, I find it very hard to believe, indeed impossible, that Arminius has been misunderstood. His opponents in the 17th century were much closer and more familiar with both his writings and his person. This is why I find it problematic when a writer from our era re-analyzes the controversies of that period and comes to a different conclusion from the men who were involved in it. It sounds revisionist to me. Secondly, it is always possible, within any writer as voluminous as Arminius, to find a stray sentence here and there which can pass the test of orthodoxy when placed in isolation. I’m sure the same could be done for Arius, and even Pelagius himself.
Here are a few quotes from Arminius. Hardly orthodox, and very Pelagian:
“It is certain that God determineth divers things which he would not, did not some act of man’s will go before.”
“God would have all men to be saved, but, compelled with the stubborn malice of some, he changeth his purpose, and will have them to perish.”
“No such will can be ascribed unto God, whereby he so would have any to be saved, that from thence his salvation should be sure and infallible.”
If you can read these quotes and find nothing objectionable then you either aren’t familiar enough with the theological implications and ramifications involved to make an accurate assessment, or you are an Arminian, and thus you have a vested interest in defending such pestilential statements.