- The thoughts of a 21st century Remonstrant

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Setting the Record Straight

This short post is to set the record straight, to stop ignorant Calvinists accuse Arminianism of being semi-Pelagian, a straw man that is easier to knock down that Arminianism itself. Some of you might remember John MacAthur's misrepresentation of Arminianism where he said [1]"So that the sinner unaided by the Holy Spirit must make the first move. That is essentially Arminian theology. The sinner unaided must make the first move, and God will then respond when the sinner makes the first move." It can be found here (3rd Audio File down), and the quote occurs about 33 minutes into the Audio File.

It's no wonder that Calvinists often know so little about Arminian doctrine, with Calvinist leaders who are apparently ignorant themselves. I'll give John MacAthur the benefit of the doubt that he is just ignorant of Arminian theology, rather than purposefully misleading, though there is really no excuse for such ignorance for a man in his position. In addition to his ignorance of Arminian theology is apparently his ignorance of theologians (note that about 32 minutes into the Audio File he calls John Wesley a "messed up Calvinist", even though Wesley was Arminian through and through!)

Many Arminian blogs have already posted on this, but it is a straw man that keeps popping up. So together, let's set the record straight, and try to put an end to this straw man.

Pelagianism: Under Pelagianism man has the natural ability to do right including choosing God, and that human nature is unaffected by original sin. Pelagius taught that man is born into the same state that Adam was created, with an untainted will.

semi-Pelagianism: Under semi-Pelagianism, mans nature has been affected by original sin so that he is depraved, but not totally depraved. Under semi-Pelagianism, man has the ability to make the first move towards God, but God must finish the process.

Arminianism: affirms the doctrine of total depravity and original sin. Man is naturally unable to make any move towards God. As you likely already know, it is one of the 5 main points of Arminianism (the T in FACTS.) If MacArthur read Arminius himself or even took 2 minutes to look up Wikipedia, he would know that [2] "No system of Arminianism founded on Arminius or Wesley denies original sin or total depravity; both Arminius and Wesley strongly affirmed that man's basic condition is one in which he cannot be righteous, understand God, or seek God".

The Society of Evangelical Arminians Statement of Faith affirms [3]"We believe that humanity was created in the image of God but fell from its original sinless state through willful disobedience and Satan's deception, resulting in eternal condemnation and separation from God. In and of themselves and apart from the grace of God human beings can neither think, will, nor do anything good, including believe. But the prevenient grace of God prepares and enables sinners to receive the free gift of salvation offered in Christ and his gospel. Only through the grace of God can sinners believe and so be regenerated by the Holy Spirit unto salvation and spiritual life. It is also the grace of God that enables believers to continue in faith as well as good in thought, will, and deed, so that all good deeds or movements that can be conceived must be ascribed to the grace of God."

Arminius himself wrote [4] "This is my opinion concerning the free-will of man: In his primitive condition as he came out of the hands of his creator, man was endowed with such a portion of knowledge, holiness and power, as enabled him to understand, esteem, consider, will, and to perform the true good, according to the commandment delivered to him. Yet none of these acts could he do, except through the assistance of Divine Grace. But in his lapsed and sinful state, man is not capable, of and by himself, either to think, to will, or to do that which is really good; but it is necessary for him to be regenerated and renewed in his intellect, affections or will, and in all his powers, by God in Christ through the Holy Spirit, that he may be qualified rightly to understand, esteem, consider, will, and perform whatever is truly good. When he is made a partaker of this regeneration or renovation, I consider that, since he is delivered from sin, he is capable of thinking, willing and doing that which is good, but yet not without the continued aids of Divine Grace."

Article III of the Remonstrants says [5] "That man does not posses saving grace of himself, nor of the energy of his free will, inasmuch as in his state of apostasy and sin he can of and by himself neither think, will, nor do any thing that is truly good (such as saving Faith eminently is); but that it is necessary that he be born again of God in Christ, through his Holy Spirit, and renewed in understanding, inclination, and will, and all his faculties, in order that he may rightly understand, think, will, and effect what is truly good, according to the Word of Christ, John 15:5, “Without me you can do nothing.”"

Anyone who does not affirm original sin or total depravity is not a true Arminian. Perhaps more would be willing to accept the doctrines of Arminianism if they actually knew what the doctrines were.

Daniel Nebauer


Thursday, 21 May 2009

1 Cor 10:13 - Free because God is Sovereign

1 Cor 10:13 (ESV) says: "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it."

While not all Calvinists adhere to exhaustive determinism, I think it is worth while to see if exhaustive determinism is biblical. I believe this verse shows us that we are free (in the non-Calvinist sense of the word) to choose not to sin.

Determinists often like to claim that humans will always "choose" whatever we most desire, and that desire is a result of our nature and our environment at that point in time. So then what does it mean to be tempted? Temptation is the influence that causes us to desire sin. Now logically, according to the determinist, when we sin, it is because our desire to sin is greater than our desire not to sin. In other words, we sin when the temptation becomes too great for out nature to deal with.

But what does the above verse say with regards to temptation? "God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability..."
God will never let us be tempted beyond our ability. In other words, it's always possible to resist the temptation. So the times we have sinned - it was possible for us to choose not to sin. But according to the determinist, it is only possible to "choose" what we have been determined to choose. And there lies the determinist's inconsistency.

And there lies one of the strengths of the Arminian position. If God doesn't determine us to sin, and we have the freedom not to sin, then the blame for sin can only lie with us. We are responsible for our own sins, and God is not the author of sin. God didn't decree for us to sin, just as it is evident he didn't decree the sins in Jer 19:5.

But why is it that we have this freedom not to sin? Is it because God is powerless and must let us have this freedom? Of course not! It is in His Sovereignty that God grants us this freedom. "...but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." It is by God's graciousness that we are able to not sin. But at the same time we know we still choose to sin. God doesn't force us to not sin, - as we know we still sin, - this is His permissive will. As in God's grace He has granted us the ability to not sin, I also believe He has done so in regards to our ability to repent and believe, - but that is a post for another day.

Daniel Nebauer

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Calvinist Justice

Some time ago a Calvinist made a parody of the song "Amazing Grace" called "Arminian grace" where the Calvinist confuses Arminianism with Pelagianism. It can be found here.

Here is an attempt to parody the Calvinist view of justice using the same song. I believe that this does more justice to the Calvinist positition than the above does to the Arminian position. If it seems at all dark, its because it's a reflection of Calvinism. It is written in the eyes of the 'reprobate'.

Calvinist “justice!” How dark the sound,
Condemned not because of me.
God made me lost and would not find,
Made blind, but won't help me see.

What “justice” is this from secret decrees,
Made from this God within?
Created unable to hear God’s voice,
Condemned before I sinned.

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have gone through alone.
God tempted me more than I could bear,
To justify my place in my home.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Because of what God’s done.
We’ve no less days to scream in pain,
Than when we first begun.

Daniel Nebauer

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Calvinist Witnessing Video

I found this funny and thought I'd share it. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Consistent Calvinism FAQ (Satire)

This is a post I added to the Society of Evangelical Arminians prior to creating this blog.

Disclaimer: The following is a light-hearted satire on Calvinism and not an attack on Calvinists. :-)

Q. How should I approach evangelism?

A. You should evangelise if you believe that you are included in the command of the Great Commission. It is important, however, to know what the right motivation for evangelism is. Your motivation should be to obey God’s command. People’s salvation is not a legitimate motivation for evangelism, for you cannot change their elected status.
When you evangelise, be careful not to tell people that “Jesus died for their sins”. Also note, that since grace is irresistible, there is no need to be persuasive, (for you cannot change people’s elected status). The corollary of this is that there is no harm in being non-persuasive. Once people have heard the ‘good news’, there is no need to continue preaching to them.
Remember that statistically speaking, those you are evangelising to are probably part of the reprobate. There is, however, no need to seek out the elect, or any need to reach as many people as possible. This is because God will ensure one way or another, that those who are included in the elect will hear the gospel by some means.
Take comfort in that, if you are not spreading the ‘good news’, it’s not your fault, because it just means that at this time God is not using you.

Q. What should I do if it looks like someone is in danger of falling away?

A. Nothing. It is impossible for someone to fall away. If someone does fall away, you must conclude that they were never saved in the first place. In which case, it is legitimate (though not necessary since they have already heard the ‘good news’) to evangelise to them. (See “How should I approach evangelism?”)

Q. How should I approach prayer?

A. The purpose of prayer is to build your relationship with God. Asking God for anything won’t have an impact, for God has already decided. There is no need to ask for people to be saved because God’s mind is already made up, and can’t be changed.

Q. What should my attitude be of hell?

A. It is impossible to know who is part of the elect, and who is part of the reprobate. On one level, it should grieve you that people are damned, (because God does desire all men to be saved). However, in perspective, it is a greater desire of God to have His glory revealed. More than anything, you should rejoice in the fact that God’s will is done. You should rejoice in that God’s glory will be made known, through the condemnation and eternal damnation of the majority of humanity.

Q. Should I have children?

A. Some people are worried that if they have children, God will reprobate them to hell. It is true that there is a chance, that should you ‘choose’ to have children, that they will be reprobated to eternal condemnation, and that even raising them up in a Christian home will not influence your children’s decision in following Christ. However, this should not deter you from having children, for should God choose to reprobate them, it will help make God’s glory known. (See “What should my attitude be of hell?”)

Q. How do I best convince Arminians and other non-Calvinists that Calvinism is the true Gospel?

A. You shouldn’t. Those who are deceived are deceived because God wants them to be deceived. To do so would make you fighting against God.

Q. What about sin?

A. Just because God determines everything doesn’t mean that He determines sin. This apparent contradiction can be resolved with “compatiblism”. Remember, Calvinism is thoroughly consistent, and any ‘apparent contradictions’ can be resolved with Deut. 29:29.
As Calvinists we must recognise (somehow) that we are responsible for our sins, otherwise we could end up like those prideful Arminians.

By Daniel Nebauer


Here you will be able to see some of my thoughts, particularly regarding Calvinism and Arminianism. As the blog title suggests, I am now an Arminian, though I readily accept Calvinists as fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. As time permits, I will hopefully be able to post more often. Welcome to my blog, and God bless!

Daniel Nebauer