Arminian friends and foes

Discussion in 'Calvinism & The Doctrines of Grace' started by Neogillist, Feb 17, 2008.

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  1. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member


    1. You need to refrain from stating that another man has openly sinned simply upon his assertion that somebody weeps that a group is Evangelizing on the one hand but calling what we believe central to the Gospel itself to be dangerous on the other. In their seed form, the ideas of depravity, election, atonement, grace, and perseverance are embedded within the Gospel itself even if they do not require the hearer to embrace all in a full orbed understanding. Yet, to consciously repudiate them is very worrisome.

    2. I say this with all sincerity and brotherly love but you really need to make up your mind about whether or not the Confessions are an accurate summary of the doctrines contained in the Word of God. If they are not then they don't just work for you because you want to be strict about things that the Word of God doesn't teach. If they are then you cannot simply assert that they are just for you.

    3. What I have found fascinating in this thread is what I have just now placed my finger upon:

    a. You are angry at generalizations and painting with wide brushes -BUT-

    (1) You seemingly disagree with Arminian soteriology and yet speak in nothing but generally glowing terms of all Arminian missionary activities and chalk it all up to the fact that, thankfully, these Arminians are inconsistent at best in their professed soteriology when they pray and when they teach the Gospel.

    (2) You state that you agree with the Confessions but then paint with the widest possible brush that the only manner that Reformed people use such Confessions is to beat people over the head with them. You ascribe the worst possible motives to them. You find it impossible in fact, in a very general way, that a Reformed Church could do anything except put men under a yoke of slavery.

    (3) In summary, you are willing to ascribe only the purest of motives to those who you say you disagree doctrinally with but you ascribe the most monstrous of motives to those who you believe agree with the basic doctrines of Scripture are - including what the nature of the Gospel itself is.

    b. Just a quick question: are there any Roman Catholic missionary organizations in your region of the world? If so, why not partner with them? In fact, Pergamum, I first started my journey to the faith through the Roman Catholic Church and it was the charismatic experiences I had therein that led me to faith in Christ. I'm just curious where this line is drawn and how you define it.

    c. I still find myself wondering how, if I was to embrace this approach to Church growth what it is I'm supposed to embrace. What is the doctrinal statement for this movement and what is its aim? Pilgrim has asked you about your views and I wonder why you wouldn't even partner with a paedobaptist organization or is it just "essentials" like believer's baptism that are important but not "non-essentials" like whether or not our salvation begins in the decision of men or is birth from above.

    Honestly Pergamum, the person I've found most directly insulting and pointed as painting a group of people uniformly in a bad light is you in this thread. Others are expressing doubts about the message, you're casting the lot of Reformed Christians in a poor light.

    Other men have right concerns about doctrines and wonder, in their consciences, how they can reconcile what they believe are issues that center around the Gospel. Now, on the ground, this does not mean that they might not help such a one or even extend friendship and help but there is a difference between that and meeting them, exchanging confessions and then lopping off the parts of God's Word that they don't agree with simply so we can have a team effort.

    I'm seriously left very confused how you can believe that the God of the Universe inspired certain Truths and that your Lord commanded you to disciple men with these Truths and then you can charge us with some sort of strange attitude that we're not willing to cut those out of the diet of believers or out of a newly formed Church.

    And, as much as I appreciate what you're doing, don't think for a moment that there aren't Reformed men in dangerous and difficult places elsewhere that have all concluded that the Confessions are a fool's errand. If they're a fool's errand for a new Christian then they're a fool's errand for us all. Either they summarize the Word of God accurately or they need to be jettisoned. If they do then they cannot be ignored or lopped off at our convenience.
  2. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    RICH and all:

    There is a wide range of "arminian" beliefs. Some are 4 pointers, others are of the Dave Hunt varity. Many calvinisits, however, label everything that is sub-5 point as Arminianism and then call this a false Gospel. This IS indeed a slander against many good men. And if these men ARE preaching the Word of God, even if some error is involved, than to oppose their preaching and to wish them home instead of laboring abroad is to oppose the work of God. This IS sin last time I checked.

    Everybody makes generalizations. I am not mad at generalizations in general, but at the particular generalization that all arminians preach a false Gospel and it would be better that they not work or preach or evangelize than to evangelize with the light that they are given.

    Above I mentioned the example of some of the New Tribes folks I know who use the Firm Foundations series to teach tribals about the fall, sin, and the need for a sacrifice, from Genesis to Revelation. New Tribes is not a Calvinistic org, yet these people work faithfully, endure hardship, and teach a Biblical message. Iknow many personally and I agree with them very much. They both stress divine sovereingty and human responsibility and when teaching tribals they call them to repentance and to trust in Christ. What are they doing wrong?

    When Mr. Winzer heard this (above) his reply was that he "grieves" due to this because none but calvinists can deliver the Gospel.

    Again, it is not as simple as calvinism=correct, sub-5point calvinism=arminianism=false Gospel.

    The Gospel messsage is that man has fallen into sin. God, however, has sent his divine-human Son, Jesus, to die for our sins. He was crucified yet now is risen and all who believe on his Son can be saved.

    I would also like to take issue with Mr Winzer's quote above about asking Jesus into one's heart. Personally desiring salvation is vital. Many people do, as a manifestation of their conversion, "ask Jesus into their heart". While this is poor phraseology, there is nothing wrong about this. Jesus does stand at the door and knock and some people speak of opening their hearts to Jesus.

    When I was saved, I, too, opened my heart to Jesus. Many others are saved the same way - and then they (afterward) learn that the Holy Spirit was wriggling the will.

    When we explain the Gospel we need not take someone through the Five Points. There is a difference between the Five Points and the core Gospel message. And some Arminians are preaching this core message.

    I want to bring people to Christ, not to Calvin. And I want them to come to the cross; not to Geneva.

    Again, confessionalism is not the cure all. Both of the confessional and reformed churches that work where I am are in the worst shape imaginable. A solid doctrinal statement can work just fine as a confession.

    When we speak of the importance of confessionalism, I must ask which confession? I like the 1689. I think the WCF errs on the definition of the church and (of course) on baptism. How about the Hiedelburg or the Belgic?

    Confessions shouldn't take the place of the Scripture. In new works, everytime a question is asked, the answer should be found in the Bible, not in that "the confession says..."

    Many reformed are doing good work overseas. I just desire that we recognize that many who do not label themselves as calvinisits also are doing a good job and we should even praise them and pray for them.

    Summarizing the Word of God is always neccessary when reaching the unreached. To accuse me or others of diluting the Word of God is ludicrous.

    Listen. I am a 5 point calvinist who follows the 1689.

    I am part of the inside crowd and one has greater rights to criticize my own kin. Arminians get called so many names here on the PB and we assassinate their characters all the time. But our poo poo stinks too. Many people who fall short of all five points, even if barely, are often classed as an arminian,and then arminians are all relegated to spreaders of a "false gospel".

    I see with my own two eyes two examples of dead confessionalism and groups of reformed and confessional evangelists that are not doing Gospel work (pm me and I can go into details), whereas the "evangelicals" are making great strides.

    Again, I wish to state my main assertions in this post:

    (1) not all arminians are hellbound. Some are dear servants of God. Most do not even know they are arminians. Many proclaim the Gospel. Many minister in contexts where systematic treatments of the ordo salutis are not done, and only the basics can possibly be covered.
    (2) We should give honor to whom honor is due and we are often guilty of not honoring Gospel servants because our calvinistic mindset often labels all who are not five pointers as arminians and then we categorize them as "The Enemy."
    (3) there is a whole world of Christians out there that do not even function in terms of labeling people Arminians or calvinisits. What's calvinism, they would probably say. And many of these do some good evangelism work as well.
    (4) Most people do not know that they are Arminians. They do trust in God's grace for salvation, even though they desire to assert that man MUST repent and believe. Most arminians still trust in the grace of Christ, and are blissfully unaware ofthe inconsistencies in their system.

    What do I do now? I am tired of this thread. I want to bow out and thank all who came out to beat the fella who dared to criticize US instead of THEM.

    Rich, I would like to thank you for your upholding the confessions. They are good and I do like the 1689. Mr. Winzer, I disagree with you much on this thread, but I am sure you are disagreeing with me out of a love for the truth and so I praise God for your zeal. Pilgrim, and Poimen, thank you for your insights.

    Pilgrim, you mention that you came to faith under an arminian ministry. If arminianism is a false Gospel, how is that possible... But nevetheless, thanks for your contribution.
  3. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member


    I think this is a good place to end this particular dispute. I think when the smoke cleared we would find there are some violent agreements here. I think you're mis-reading some of the criticisms as a "binding and loosing" and confining all non-Reformed ministries to outer darkness. Not so. Concern? Yes. I simply cannot assume that the fruit of all labors that miss a core element of the Gospel will yield untainted fruit but I also recognize that God is God and He is the Judge of all men. My job, as far as I'm concerned, is fidelity to the things revealed. I will be kind and helpful and even love others who disagree with me but it doesn't mean I agree with their methods.

    Further, please read "Confessions" as "...this is the basic summary of what I believe the Scriptures principally teach and this is what the Church I belong to believes as well...." When you read me say "Confessions" don't think I'm talking about some document detached from the Scriptures and the Church but in the middle of the Church to serve as a common set of beliefs.

    At its most basic level: "I believe Jesus is the Son of God made flesh and was truly God and truly man..." is a Confession. The Church collects a bunch of these basic statements that are reflective of what the Scriptures teach. If they reflect what the Scriptures teach then the propositions are true not because they're in a confession I believe in but because they are propositions God has revealed in His Word. I know this can seem sterile to speak of Confessions but all we're talking about is finding a basic level of agreement. Every ministry organization has a "We Believe" link and we're right to evaluate each other on that basis.

    That all said, Brother, I do love you and appreciate your work. I think there is some great truth that many men in orthodox congregations have little heart for the Gospel but that is not, again, the fault of a true belief but in spite of a true belief. When life isn't present in such men, the solution is more true Gospel and not a lament that it doesn't work so let's turn to other measures.

    I do wish you well and am confident that men and women will receive the light of the Gospel by your labors. May the Lord bless, keep, and sustain you. May He strengthen your hands. May He give you wisdom to be able to show love to the men and women who labor alongside of you that may be confused about the nature of the Gospel. May they, in fact, hear the Gospel expressed truly from your lips and be transformed to embrace it fully even as they might have received it partially heretofore.

    Know that we're all praying for you and I pray that any wounds I inflicted in this exchange were received as the wounds of a friend who struggles with many of the same questions.

    Grace and peace,

  4. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Pergamum, you have a root of bitterness against Calvinism, and left unattended it is sure to defile many besides your own soul. You should at least make a fair attempt to represent what was said. I wrote,

    Please note: my expression of grief has no reference to the person who simply preaches the gospel of Jesus Christ and somehow manages to extricate himself from the debate between Calvinism and Arminianism (not that I've ever come across such a person nor expect I ever will). My statement is specifically aimed at a situation where the person calls Calvinism "a grave error." On the basis of such a conviction the preacher could only be teaching an anti-Calvinist gospel, a gospel which is articulately Arminian, and hence no gospel at all. If you suppose a man can deny the need for irresistible grace in order to salvation (note, not simply fail to mention it, but deny it altogether), and should still be regarded as a faithful preacher of the gospel, then you are in great need to learn again the first principles of the doctrines of grace, because it is evident that your understanding is woefully deficient.
  5. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Ha, Rich, I always appreciate you. Don't worry, all things are taken in love. I do think that when the smoke clears we will discover that we basically agree.

    I too believe that overt and deliberate Armianism (does that phrase make sense) is a danger to the church. And also I agree that standards and some set of clear beliefs ( a confession I guess) are necesssary for clear teaching.

    While I get worked up over charges of "false gospel" and "heretic" thrown around without much, much cause first, I too am leery of much teaching that goes on in the churches.

    And yes I agree, the solution for lostness is not other measures, but the truth.

    I do thank God for all reformed works of evangelism and reformed missionaries (even the RPCUS ones). May God increase their tribe.

    This does sound like a good place to stop. The horse is beaten to death. Let's make a date and argue again in 3 months if the issues are still issues by then! Ha.
  6. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    The "just ask Jesus into your heart" method of evangelism is wrong for one very simple reason: it confuses justification with sanctification.

    I have seen this sort of thing reap much havoc in Northern Ireland where Armininian groupings have done much children's evangelism where this sort of thing has been taught; as a result some people who live the most a-moral lives think they are going to heaven because they "asked Jesus into their heart" when they were 4 years old. Such teaching is dangerous.
  7. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Whether my understanding is "woefully deficient" or not, I wish you many blessings as I close up shop on this thread.

    Above, I mentioned a scenario of faithful men who taught the Bible from Genesis to Revealtion. These men came from an org that was arminian, but in their own teaching they did the Firm Foundation series, which pulls teaching directly from the Scripture without the labels of systematic theology. Your response was that you grieved over those who called Calvinism a grave error. These men did not do so. Whether you have seen it or not, I have met many who HAVE, indeed, not joined up in calling them or anyone else either calvinisits or arminians. I have, indeed, met some who have extricated themselves from this debate by focusing on tribes who are animistic and know NOTHING of the Gospel. It will be a very long time before these even understand the work of Christ, let alone deeper abstractions. I rejoice over the work of thse from that "arminian" org.

    Also, my "root of bitterness" is not against Calvinism. I love calvinism when it is used as a wonderful set of truths instead of merely a club to beat one's enemies to death.

    Blessings to you brother. Thanks for giving me much to think about.
  8. Mushroom

    Mushroom Puritan Board Doctor

    Does this apply to this issue?:
  9. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Here's the scoop:

    I am ministering in a region where the reformed claimed the area but have not done anything about.

    They claim that they are missions-minded (just like many on the PB claim) but they lack personnel and resources to disciple this area, and are not doing anything in the region - though they claim it.... and yet vigorously oppose evangelical groups (like the one I am working with, who have a history of largely being calvinisitic, congregational and baptistic) from entering.

    Thus, these reformed folks, it appears would rather see these people truly not know who Jesus is rather than partner with someone that is not in their own narrow tradition. They lack personnel because no one wants to go to these people and live long term. But the evangelicals - with which I am working - do, even without money or even mosquito nets (some have lost childen).

    The reformed herein this region have not done any language work nor have they translated the Bible largely (only the catechism) and the local people are largely totally ignorant. So, what do I do in a case like that? Support the reformed group's contention that the land is theirs or help a very zealous group reach these people - even though they are "evangelical"?

    This is real life...not some ideal where all the churches would become TR WCF following Presbyterians.

    We plow with the oxen we got, not the ones we wish we had...

    It is easy to call me someone who wants to dilute doctrine when your sitting behind a desk punching computer keys. I want the knowledge of Christ to go forward and I am willing to pour this wine through a dixie cup if a porcelein flask is not available. I am willing to work with these evangelicals (who really are not a bad group, baptistic and somewhat calvinistic) if the reformed are not doing anything.

    Is it better to be an evangelical Christian or a lost person sitting and waiting for the reformed to do something?
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