Wednesday, September 24, 2008

9/24/08 Notes for the Class: Confessions of an Arminian Part One

Confessions of an Arminian Christian Class

“If embracing Calvinism is the best way to take God seriously, to acknowledge our status as creatures and to experience spiritual liberation, then we want to be Calvinist too!... We appreciate the appeal of Calvinist and respect many of the motivations that draw believers to embrace it…. However It a nutshell, our case against Calvinism is that it doesn’t do justice to the character of God revealed in Scripture. “Jerry Walls and Joe Dongell

Myth 1: Arminian Theology is the Opposite of Calvinist/Reformed Theology

Myth 2: A Hybrid of Calvinism and Arminianism is Possible

Myth 3: Arminian Theology is Not an Orthodox Evangelical Option

Myth 4: The Heart of Arminianism Is Belief in Freewill

Myth 5: Arminian Theology Denies the Sovereignty of God

Myth 6: Arminianism is a Human-Centered Theology

Myth 7: Arminianism is not a Theology of Grace

Myth 8: Arminians do not believe in Predestination

Myth 9: Arminian Theology Denies Justification by Grace Alone Through Faith Alone[i]

Theological Movements from 16th-20th Century

Calvinistic Theology

T- Total Depravity- We are incapable of making any decision to accept God apart from God’s irresistible grace
U- Unconditional Election- God elects certain people unconditionally for salvation and the rest are left in a state of total depravity.
L- Limited Atonement- Jesus’ atonement for sin is limited to those who are elected by God.
I- Irresistible Grace- God’s grace given to the elect cannot be resisted.
P- Perseverance of the Saints- Unconditional Eternal security.
Classic Wesleyan-Arminian Theology

Natural Inability- We are incapable of making any decision to accept God apart from God’s prevenient grace.

Conditional Election- Through prevenient grace, God chooses to elect every person for salvation, but this election is dependant on our free choice.

Appropriated Atonement- Jesus’ atonement for sin is available to all, but is only appropriated by our free choice.

Resistible Grace- God shows grace to every person so that they can make a decisive decision about God. God’s grace can be rejected.

Assurance of the Believer- Christians can have assurance of salvation, but they must continue to work out their salvation.

Myth 1: Arminian Theology is the Opposite of Calvinist/Reformed Theology

- If by Reformed Theology one means: Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone and that human merit must be excluded from as a cause of salvation, then Arminian theology is reformed.
- John Wesley agreed with Calvinism in that: (1) Ascribing all good to the free grace of God. (2) In denying all natural freewill because it is dependant upon grace. (3) In excluding all merit from humanity, even for what they have or do by the grace of God.

Myth 2: A Hybrid of Calvinism and Arminianism is Possible

- Atonement: Calvinist believe the atonement is limited in scope, but universal in value. Arminians believe the atonement is universal in scope, but limited efficacy because it is limited to those who accept by faith.

- Grace: Calvinists believe God’s grace is resisted by those who God chooses to pass over, but irresistible to those who are the elect. Arminians believe grace is irresistible when it comes to the grace that restores our freedom, but resistible when our freedom has been restored.

- God’s Timelessness does not change how God chooses to respond to human beings. The Atonement is either limited or it is not. Grace is either irresistible or it is not.

Myth 3: Arminian Theology is Not an Orthodox Evangelical Option

-Arminians are accused of being unorthodox because they are accused of being followers of the early church theologian Palgius, who was deemed a heritic by the early church for his views on orginal sin

Pelagius vs Augustine


Man has a perfect free will. He can do what God requires.

There is no innate impulse to sin, no original sin inherited from Adam

Sin is the simple choice to do wrong. Man’s sensual nature is the occasion, not the cause, of sin.

Grace, as a cause, is unnecessary to move the will toward God. Christ acts as an example and motivation to right acting.


God created man posse non peccare et non mori (possible not to sin or die)
Man misused his freedom and willed to disobey God, as a consequence he entered the state of non posse non peccare et mori (not possible not to sin and die)

The will became a sinning will. All men share in this evil because all men were in Adam when he sinned and hence sinned with him. All are guilty

God is absolutely sovereign. He is the direct cause of all that is. Fallen man, therefore, is absolutely powerless to will anything against God, or for Himself. If any man is saved and turns towards God, it is only because God has moved man’s will to respond to Him. God changes the inclination of the heart so that the man acts in freedom. Grace is irresistible because God’s will is irresistible. If Christ died for all men, then all men would be saved, but not all men are saved. Since all men are not saved, then God must have chosen particular men to salvation and the rest are left to their sins.


Palagians- Originally Born Sinless and can freely choose God
Semi- Palagians- Originally Born Sinless, but sin in the world makes free choice for God more difficult.
Semi- Augustinians- Originally Born Sinful, but freewill is restored through God’s grace (Arminians)
Augustinians- Originally Born Sinful and cannot freely choose God. (Calvinists)

[i] Robert Olson Arminian Theology (Inter Varsity Press: Downers Grove, IL 2006) The 9 myths of Arminian Theology make up the core structure of the class.

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