Arminian Theology ~ Part 2
In my last post, we took a brief look at Arminian Theology. In this post, we continue to explore Doctrinal Affirmations of Arminian Theology and The Remonstrance. As a reminder, in order to ensure that I present the material on this topic and Calvinistic Theology without any preconceived bias, I have elected to utilize “The Moody Handbook of Theology” by Paul Enns as my source document.
Doctrinal Affirmations of Arminian Theology
Arminian doctrine is found in widely diversified groups today: Lutherans, Methodists, Episcopalians, Anglicans, Pentecostals, Free Will Baptists, and most Charismatic and Holiness Believers. The doctrinal views that will be presented here are generally representative of Arminianism (especially as held by Wesleyans), but because of the diversity of the denominations and groups holding to the general tenets of Arminianism, what is true in particular of one will not necessarily be true of all.
Not all the doctrines that are fundamental to the Christian faith will be discussed, but only those which particularly set Arminianism apart as distinctive.
In 1610 a group of Jacobus Arminius’s followers outlined their opposition to Calvinism in five doctrinal articles collectively called the “Remonstrance.” The five points of the Remonstrance emphasized:
(1) Conditional predestination based on the foreknowledge of God;
(2) Christ’s death was universal; He died for everyone, but His death was effective only for Believers;
(3) Saving faith is impossible apart from the regeneration of the Holy Spirit;
(4) God’s grace can be resisted; and
(5) Although God supplies grace so that Believers may persevere, the Scriptures are not clear that a Believer could never be lost.
The five articles of the 1610 Remonstrance are reprinted in the following paragraphs. (I have deliberately not updated the language from the original, except to capitalize the personal pronouns referring to the Deity as is my custom.)
Article One: Election based on foreknowledge.
That God, by an eternal, unchangeable purpose in Jesus Christ his Son, before the foundation of the world, hath determined, out of the fallen, sinful race of men, to save in Christ, for Christ’s sake, and through Christ, those who, through the grace of the Holy Ghost, shall believe on this His Son Jesus, and shall persevere in this faith and obedience of faith, through this grace, even to the end; and, on the other hand, to leave the incorrigible and unbelieving in sin and under wrath, and to condemn them as alienate from Christ, according to the word of the gospel in John iii. 36: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him,” and according to other passages of Scripture also.
Article Two: Unlimited atonement.
That, agreeably thereto, Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world, died for all men and for every man, so that He has obtained for them all, by His death on the cross, redemption and the forgiveness of sins; yet that no one actually enjoys this forgiveness of sins except the believer, according to the word of the Gospel of John iii. 16: “God so loved the world that He gave his only-begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” And in the First Epistle of John ii.2: “And He is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”
Article Three: Natural inability.
That man has not saving grace of himself, nor of the energy of his free will, inasmuch as he, in the state of apostasy and sin, 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 needful that he be born again of God in Christ, through His Holy Spirit, and renewed in understanding, inclination, or will, and all His powers, in order that he may rightly understand, think, will, and effect what is truly good, according to the Word of Christ, John xv. 5: “Without Me ye can do nothing.”
Article Four: Prevenient grace.
That this grace of God is the beginning, continuance, and accomplishment of all good, even to this extent, that the regenerate man himself, without prevenient or assisting, awakening, following and co-operative grace, can neither think, will, nor do good, nor withstand any temptations to evil; so that all good deeds or movements, that can be conceived, must be ascribed to the grace of God in Christ. But as respects the mode of the operation of this grace, it is not irresistible, inasmuch as it is written concerning many, that they have resisted the Holy Ghost. Acts vii., and elsewhere in many places.
Article Five: Conditional perseverance.
That those who are incorporated into Christ by a true faith, and have thereby become partakers of His life-giving Spirit, have thereby full power to strive against Satan, sin, the world, and their own flesh, and to win the victory; it being well understood that it is ever through the assisting grace of the Holy Ghost; and that Jesus Christ assists them through His Spirit in all temptations, extends to them His hand, and if only they are ready for the conflict, and desire His help, and are not inactive, keeps them from falling, so that they, by no craft or power of Satan, can be misled nor plucked out of Christ’s hands, according to the Word of Christ, John x. 28: “Neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” But whether they are capable, through negligence, of forsaking again the first beginnings of their life in Christ, of again returning to this present evil world, of turning away from the holy doctrine which was delivered them, of losing a good conscience, of becoming devoid of grace, that must be more particularly determined out of the Holy Scripture, before we ourselves can teach it with the full persuasion of our minds.
In my next post, we will continue to drill down further into Arminian Theology and The Remonstrance.