Posted in Christian Faith, Reformed Theology

Arminians Are On a Road to Rome

I read this [emphasis mine] earlier on a faithful brother’s blog and I have a few thoughts.

“Faith was not something that your use of (as an evangelical or gospel obedience) pulled the trigger on God justifying you. Justification in the catechism is defined as a declarative act on God’s part, so not God’s reaction to my use of faith. This was an issue then and now that some believe in “prevenient grace” the concept that God via Christ destroyed the work of Satan, and sin, and as such returned mankind to a type of neutral spiritual estate, whereby in this life, everyone has been granted faith, but now you just have to use it. This is counter to everything the scripture and the confession has and will say, as there is no mention of a middle or neutral grace of God in scripture. This is an Arminian invention and assumption based on the idea that if man is responsible to choose God, then man “must” have the freedom and ability to do so (add that they have a great distaste for election/reprobation, which is in scripture). This concept, as shown in prior posts, is adamantly fought for at the expense of denying much of what scripture plainly says. The Calvinist does not deny man’s responsibility, and greatly affirms the free offer of the Gospel and even man’s freedom of choice. But the Calvinist also understands the full and true nature of sin in the Bible, and so acknowledges that man’s will in sin, does not and will not have the desire to choose salvation on his own (Romans 3:9-12).”

I mentioned in a comment to Dr. Leonard, this not only resonated with me, it reminded me of my early walk with Christ and where I, even though I was well meaning, went wrong. 

I came to faith 25 or so years ago when the internet was not nearly what it is today. What I mean to say is that I did not have commentaries, confessions, catechisms, and sound teaching readily available at my fingertips, to be accessed whenever I needed them. Literally all I had was faith, a desire to learn, a Bible, and a friend and fellow church member who was just as clueless as I was. No mentors or disciples to speak of either but that is a topic for another post.

Long story short, we jumped right in to the deep end of theology and began to grapple with what is commonly known as Calvinism.   

And. It. Didn’t. Make. Sense. 

There is no way, my young friend and I thought, that God could foreordain some and not others unto salvation. 

Faith must be a free gift that is available to all and we must have the free will to decide if we want it or not, we thought.

What I now realize that this was an assumption and an invention based not on what Scripture plainly teaches but on our own internal sense of right, wrong, and fairness.

But if one is to understand Total Depravity properly, then one’s theology must change from what they think fair to what the Bible teaches. 

The total depravity of man is seen throughout the Bible. Man’s heart is “deceitful and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). The Bible also teaches us that man is born dead in transgression and sin (Psalm 51:5Psalm 58:3Ephesians 2:1-5). The Bible teaches that because unregenerate man is “dead in transgressions” (Ephesians 2:5), he is held captive by a love for sin (John 3:19John 8:34) so that he will not seek God (Romans 3:10-11) because he loves the darkness (John 3:19) and does not understand the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:14). Therefore, men suppress the truth of God in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18) and continue to willfully live in sin. Because they are totally depraved, this sinful lifestyle seems right to men (Proverbs 14:12) so they reject the gospel of Christ as foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:18) and their mind is “hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is unable to do so” (Romans 8:7). 

If that is the proper understanding of total depravity, and I think it is, then how would someone in their natural sate chose salvation when we naturally don’t want anything to do with God? 

Yes, we do decide and some do reject the Gospel of Christ as foolishness, but this choice is not made from neutral ground nor from a fictional state of “prevenient grace” as many, including the younger me, believe. We choose what we want, and that choice is consistent with our character so we have free-will in a sense. But we cannot choose to have faith in Christ unto salvation unless we are justified by God first.

And this justification is in concert with an effectual calling, which is described in John 6:44.

“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him…” 

The Greek word translated “draw” is helkuo which literally means “to drag” which is clearly a one-sided arrangement.   

I heard a sermon on this by R.C. Sproul the other day in which he recalled a debate he had with an Arminian who said that same Greek word was used in a First Century poem to describe drawing water out of a well, so it does not necessarily always mean “drag.” Fair point on the usage of the word but Dr. Sproul rightly noted that we don’t get water out of a well by calling to it or offering it a choice but, instead, we lower a bucket into the well and scoop the water up. And, ironically to the person who made the point, scooping water out of a well is an apt way of describing effectual calling

I know most people consider Calvinism vs. Arminianism to be a secondary point in Christianity and we can, in spite of our differences, enjoy fellowship together and I believe that. I love my Arminian brothers and sisters and I do not, in any way, think they are not saved.

However, it is important to note that The Westminster Confession of Faith, as well as other confessions and creeds are not in agreement with Arminianism and that both sides where once militarized, and one was tried and convicted as heresy.

So, my dear Arminian brothers and sisters. You may indeed be saved but you are no less on a road to Rome, and you need to adjust your course.

I recollect an Arminian brother telling me that he had read the Scriptures through a score or more times and could never find the doctrine of election in them. He added that he was sure he would have done so if it had been there, for he read the Word on his knees. I said to him, “I think you read the Bible in a very uncomfortable posture, and if you had read it in your easy chair, you would have been more likely to understand it. Pray, by all means, and the more, the better, but it is a piece of superstition to think there is anything in the posture in which a man puts himself for reading: and as to reading through the Bible twenty times without having found anything about the doctrine of election, the wonder is that you found anything at all: you must have galloped through it at such a rate that you were not likely to have any intelligible idea of the meaning of the Scriptures.”

Spurgeon’s best sermon on the doctrine’s of grace.

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4 thoughts on “Arminians Are On a Road to Rome

  1. Sigh. Spurgeon so good. I once had a conversation with a proper, old school, free will Baptist who was reading Spurgeon’s Lectures to My Students and I asked what he thought about it, he said, “That Mr. Spurgeon fellow has some funny ideas but you can’t say he was wrong!” C.H.S. Making Calvinists since 1885.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Spurgeon is great. I recommend reading “the old dead guys” to everyone hoping they may think the same thing about what they read as your friend did.

      I heard someone say recently that they told their Mom to read Bondage of the Will by Martin Luther (according to him his most important work) then read the NT and see if they don’t see election everywhere.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Like

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