Evangelize like an Arminian

Discussion in 'Evangelism, Missions and the Persecuted Church' started by steadfast7, Dec 2, 2009.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. steadfast7

    steadfast7 Puritan Board Junior

    You may have heard it before, something to the effect of,

    "Evangelize like an Arminian, but pray and sleep like a Calvinist."

    In general, Arminians have been known to "pull out all the stops" when it comes to evangelism and missions. As people who believe in an unbounded will capable of heeding the gospel, they are the masters of devising and employing natural means in their evangelism.

    Calvinists have been known to be bold and daring in gospel proclamation, but not as "sensitive" to natural processes which bring people to faith. In a sermon on missions, Paul Washer said something like, "the modern missiological emphasis on contextualization and anthropology are the activity of little boys who do not know their God."

    If God indeed uses means (eg. contextualization, anthropology, mission strategy, social programs, etc.) to bring people to faith, Are Calvinists rightly charged for not doing their best in these areas?
  2. Joseph Scibbe

    Joseph Scibbe Puritan Board Junior

    I am a Calvinist (obviously) and I have no problem with contextualization...to a certain degree. I love Paul Washer but I think he is off on this point. Mark Driscoll says it best "Everyone contextualizes, the question is to what era". Paul said that he became "all things to all men" that he "might save some". Adapting to the, non-sinful, practices of a culture (ie music style, dress, and speech {again to a certain degree}) are things we expect of good foreign missionaries yet refuse to allow the men and women we send out on mission here in the US...odd idea if you ask me.
  3. newcreature

    newcreature Puritan Board Freshman

    I believe we are called to evangelize.

    If we preach the gospel and proclaim the name of Christ, then will not God do the work of calling those whom he has predestined? Just my thoughts.
  4. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)


    Read William Carey's Enquiry into the Use of means in the propagation of the Gospel Among the Heathen. Carey, a 5 pointer advances the use of means. The Modern Missions movement, therefore, was launched by calvinists who went to great lengths to evangelize.

    I know Heartcry folks in general see the need for reseach in missions; and much of that research is anthropological and linguistic. ALL missionaries use anthropological tools and linguistics, or else they would never learn about their people-group, nor learn the language and customs of the people to whom they want to bless with the Gospel.

    Washer was probably preaching a sermon and meant to condemn the over-use of misuse of anthropology. There are "Christian missionaries" to muslims who have called Mhmd a prophet and the Krn a Holy Book and I know 1 who has repreated the Shahada, "There is no God but God and Mhd is his prophet." And this sort of stuff NEEDS to be condemned...severely. And in so doing, Washer probably was not careful enough in distinguishing good practices from bad practices.

    I am sure he would have approved of William Carey's compilation of all the latest information regarding all the peoples of the known world (in his Enquiry also, section 3). And I am sure he approves learning the language and idioms of a culture well.

    There are many areas in missiology that benefit from the social sciences, anthropology, linguistics, etc.

    Also, regarding the use of the term "contextualization." All missionaries contextualize to a certain degree, so that the Gospel may be taught in local language and so that we may follow Paul's examples in Scripture. But most, in condemning over-contextualization practices, do not use the term "hyper-contextualization" or "C5 Contextualization" - they merely use the term "contextualization" and this misleads US churches that then condemn ALL forms of contextualization rather than the high-end practices which compromise the Gospel.

    The bigger problem in missions is actually not over-contextualization. Only a minority are doing that. The bigger problem is the NON-contextualization as Western churches export Western programs, heedless of local context and then local evangelists are forced to implement these Western programs because the Westerner is paying the fee and giving the handout.

    Washer was probably rightly speaking out about the over-use of contextualization. But we need more precision.

    Remember, sometimes in sermons we over-speak and sometimes we use words more broadly and do not define all the distinctives and we do not precicely spell out all the nuances needed.
  5. steadfast7

    steadfast7 Puritan Board Junior

    Ultimately, Yes. But how this is to be done "most efficiently and effectively" has been the work of missiologists and in general they have served the church and the cause of missions in great ways. They incorporate anthropology, sociology, psychology, linguistics, statistics, etc, which some Calvinistic attitudes may balk at as being unnecessary, worldly, and naturalistic.

    If there were no results from these endeavors, missiology would have died out, but it seems like it's more in popular and necessary than ever, and we cannot deny its effectiveness.

    Though the Calvinists were the first and most aggressive band of early protestant missionaries, modern missions belongs to the Arminian, at least it seems. The mindset that seems to breed the best missiological strategists in our day has been Arminianism, because they tend to think more in naturalistic and humanistic ways. Indeed, a vast majority of modern day missionaries are Arminians.

    Do you guys think that Calvinism tends (in general) to breed apathy for naturalistic endeavor in missions?
  6. Andres

    Andres Puritan Board Doctor

    I am not sure how you are arriving at this belief. It seems to be only an opinion of yours.
  7. Poimen

    Poimen Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Arminian minded churches are in the majority so one would expect them to have more missionaries. However every Reformed church in NAPARC has several missionaries working in many different fields.

    Those that are faithful to God's chosen means will be the most successful in the long run. God can save people anyway He wants but has called the church to preach the gospel and disciple the nations. And so the best and most faithful missionaries are able to distinguish between biblical precepts and commands and cultural norms. Wherever these norms do not contradict scripture's teaching we may adapt ourselves, and wherever these norms contradict scripture's teaching we stand firm.

    The best way to 'do' mission, in my opinion, is to disciple local, indigenous people and have them evangelize their own in the context of their culture and traditions. In this way we can respect the prevailing ideas of the time (customs -Romans 13:17) without compromising the truth.
  8. steadfast7

    steadfast7 Puritan Board Junior

    I don't know if anyone has bothered to survey all missionaries in the field and those who are doing missiological research at home, but it's certainly not a 50-50 split between Calvies and Arminians. My guess, 20-80 (anyone else care to pose a figure?) After spending 1/3 of my life in south east Asia and meeting many missionaries, Pergamum is probably the ONLY "full-on" Calvinist missionary (confessionally and practically) I've personally come across.
  9. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)


    There are more calvinists out there than you think.

    While evangelicals, moreso than more rigid reformed churches, might be at the forefront, there are HORDES of evangelical calvinists out there that are filling the ranks. So arminians are not outdoing all of us, though they might be outdoing some branches of the "Reformed."

    The Southern Baptists are doing WONDERFUL work in Central Asia, in many hard places, and many, many of these believe in calvinistic soteriology wedded to a baptistic/evangelical ecclesiology. Among the interdenominational mission boards, a high percentage believe in calvinistic soteriology. Even among arminian groups like New Tribes Missions, the ones I have met in SE Asia, a large minority are calvinistic.

    And all of these calvinistic missionaries highly value Operation World, The Joshua Project, linguistics training, anthropology, and etc.

    Also, you must also distinguish between healthy missions and unhealthy missions. A vigorous zeal is not the only criteria of excellence. Many run, who are not sent.

    Sorry, brother, but I would context your main argument. Modern missions DOES NOT belong to the Arminians.

    Ralph Winter was a Prebyterian, David Sills is a southern Baptist calvinist, John Piper is a baptistic calvinist, and a great number of those I know are calvinists or at least believe in God's sovereignty in salvation (even if they just don't know about that 4th point of Calvinism).

    -----Added 12/2/2009 at 01:42:40 EST-----

    I can show you dozens of others if you will come out!!!


    Do not let people only define things in terms of five-point calvinism, and especially Totally Reformed missions versus Arminianism. I know dozens of missionaries who believe in monergistic salvation. Though their eccclesiology might notbe reformed or they may be unsure of Particular Atonement, they believe in God's absolute sovereignty in salvation and I can work with them well.

    -----Added 12/2/2009 at 01:43:34 EST-----

    NOTE 2: Also there is a need in some places to be "doctrinal" but not "doctrinnaire."
  10. TeachingTulip

    TeachingTulip Puritan Board Sophomore

    Missionaries, who bring a message of faith and grace, should function and operate according to what they preach.

    Faith in the grace and powers of God to save sinners.

    Strategies, methodologies, and cultural compromises do not compare with casting oneself, by faith, upon the Sovereignty and Will of God Almighty, knowing and believing He will unfailingly save who He wills from out of all the peoples, tribes, and nations. (Rev. 5:9; 7:9)
  11. steadfast7

    steadfast7 Puritan Board Junior

    Thanks man!

    That's great to know. I'm encouraged! I guess I've been mixing in the wrong circles for too long. :)
  12. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    P.s. Dennis, many would not even call me "Confessional." I like the 1689 and agree with it, but "liking the confession" and "being confessional" might be two different things. I do not strive to teach the Confessions or Catechisms where I am at, but I try, instead, to create new materials based on these confessions that better fit the local context - though these new materials do not contradict the confession.

    Again, let us not define "calvinist" as "Totally Reformed" in ecclesiology too, or even "Confessional Calvinist" but let us define it as "Monergistic view of salvation" and then you will find that Modern Missions is very calvinistic.

    -----Added 12/2/2009 at 01:49:02 EST-----

    Huh? I do not understand what your main point is here?
  13. steadfast7

    steadfast7 Puritan Board Junior

    yeah, the 1689 is good, but I'm glad you're not reproducing it on the field. Some on the board would think that's what missionaries should do. I've even heard comments like "Everyone should just learn Greek and Hebrew than translating the bible." ... wow!
  14. larryjf

    larryjf Puritan Board Senior

    To evangelize like an Arminian would put the emphasis on the evangelists persuasiveness rather than on the power of the Gospel itself.

    I would suggest that Arminians use "human invention" rather than "natural means" in much of their evangelism.
    I would think that it's rather the Calvinists who take advantage of natural means, understanding that God's providence has brought such natural means to come to pass.

    The emphasis should not be on the contextualization or on the anthropology, but on God and His Word. But just because those things ought not be the emphasis doesn't mean that they don't play any part at all.

    It seems to me that the Arminians are much more into artificial means, and therefore go against the "natural means" at their disposal. They tell someone to say the sinners prayer, and then tell them that they are saved. How artificial is that! Prayers don't save, Christ saves!
  15. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritan Board Doctor

    I profoundly disagree with the idea of "doing" evangelism like an Arminian.

    (BTW - in this context I'm using the term in a general "the typical evangelical Christian who isn't a Calvinist" sense rather than in a technical sense.)

    1. The ethos and pathos of modern Arminian evangelism is inexorably linked to the ideas and practice of Finney. This means that they take the easiest - and most "sure" - route to get one to engage the will, which is to say that they seek to convince the indvidual to make a decision, by means of emotive response. Thus they use dramatic rhetoric, overwhelming oration, hypnotic and mantra-like music, etc., to get people to say "YES!" to Jesus from a gut-level emotional response to the stimuli around them. Even when they make an intellectual argument it is through these means with the emphasis being on the emotional response. Calvinists who do evangelism like this are trusting in means over message, and confusing a quick "yes" with a genuine "yes." Calvinists do seek to engage the will, that is, to lead the person to make a decision, but Calvinists try to solicit that engagement of the will on the basis of the intellect first, then the emotions. This leads to my second difference.

    2. Arminians are so desperate to get a "yes" and are willing to do all sorts of feats to conjure up the desired emotional response in the would-be convert because their theology tells them that a "yes" is good enough. While it isn't desireable that folks should come forward at a Crusade and then never receive any followup, ultimately that's ok because that one time decision was good enough. Calvinists, trusting that the Lord will save every one of His sheep, are more concerned with making disciples. And Jesus repeatedly talks about counting the cost of being a disciple. So we explain things passionately (because we believe it to be true), but we explain things thoroughly so that when the would-be convert makes a decision, the person has thought it over and understands that Jesus isn't a "get out of hell free" card.

    3. Thus, doing evangelism like an Arminian necessarily means showcasing style over substance. Doing evangelism like a Calvinist necessarily means highlighting the message over the messenger.
  16. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Dennis, my son Noah just told me he wants me to get off and spend time with him....so I will be signing off until late tonight.

    But know that there is not conflict between your beliefs and missions and that there is much GOOD work going on out there.

    I have NEVER felt a need to compromise and I preach in a fully calvinistic way wherever I go and do not hide my identity. And I will do all I can to introduce you into circles who will use you to bles others without trying to restrict your beliefs or practices..

    See you late tonight.
  17. steadfast7

    steadfast7 Puritan Board Junior

    Ronda, although I agree in principle, I think you're demonstrating my point that (some) Calvinists tend to reject missiological enterprise and research.
  18. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    One last point on the 1689: I have translated and simplified the headings for my own reference and I teach the topics in these headings frequently, but I have not yet introduced the document en toto as a binding document, though of course everything I teach will be in-line with this document.
  19. TeachingTulip

    TeachingTulip Puritan Board Sophomore

    I am simply saying that missionaries (and every witnessing Christian) should practice the faith in God that they preach.

    Nothing more than faith in God fulfilling His purposes and promises is necessary to successfully proclaim the gospel message.

    The power of God to save resides within His gospel message. (Romans 1:16-17)

    Not in our methods.
  20. steadfast7

    steadfast7 Puritan Board Junior

    In fairness, I don't think Arm'ins would deny any emphasis on God's word. But they would want to explore every possible way make it relevant and get it into the hearts of the people, thus employing contextualization and anthropology.

    I don't quite understand your distinction between 'human invention' and 'natural process', and which one is supposedly 'artificial.' I argue that the socio-sciences, let's call them, are employed more deliberately by Arm'ins, on the whole, and this may simply be because there are more Arminian Christians in the world, as Poimen pointed out. Not every Arminian missionary is a Finney'ian evangelist.

    the socio-sciences have been shown to be useful in the missionary enterprise and should be used more if God's kingdom is expanding as a result, why not?

    at the same time, the doctrines of grace and a firm grasp on truth should undergird everything we do. Indeed where Arminian theology produces faulty practices, they should be abandoned immediately, but I don't think the use of socio-sciences falls into that category.
  21. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)


    But remember that God blesses our means as well.

    "We should neither make an idol out of the means, nor should we be idle in the use of means."

    My calvinism leads to boldness and action. I have a vigorous doctrine of secondary causes.

    -----Added 12/2/2009 at 02:23:49 EST-----


    I will email you later...or give me a call later, and I can tell you of some brothers who are calvinistic and on the field.
  22. larryjf

    larryjf Puritan Board Senior

    I was simply defending Paul Washer's statement. You seemed to be suggesting that when we don't make those things the emphasis it's as if we are not using them at all. If that wasn't what you were trying to bring out of Paul Washer's statement, i'm not sure exactly what his statement is supposed to show us then.

    "natural process" would be those things that naturally happen with individuals such as culture and ethics...as well as those things that naturally happen within the context of a conversation or evangelizing such as logic and defensiveness.

    "human invention" would be those things that we invent, but don't occur naturally. This would include such things as the sinners prayer or even a different Gospel that we create like "get your best life now."

    The artificial one would be "human invention."

    When you say that the socio-sciences are employed more deliberately by the armins...if you mean they put an emphasis on it more than the calvins do, then i'd agree with you. I don't think the emphasis should be on those things, though those things still have a place in evangelism. The emphasis must remain on God and His Word.

    I would think it might be better to understand where you're coming form if you sited an example of the armin doing evangelism and then an example of the calvin doing evangelism.
  23. Mushroom

    Mushroom Puritan Board Doctor

    I doubt these Arminian manipulations are having any real success. Sure, they may fill pews with those who've been easily 'sold', but whether they are actually members of the elect remains to be proven.

    In fact, in my own experience, the Lord called me through the means of His Word, but the only place I knew to go for fellowship with other believers was to Arminian Churches. The inconsistencies with scripture were glaring, but appealing to my flesh, so I remained in spite of them. But God had mercy and drug me out of that mess after a season. None of the manipulations had any beneficial effect, they just served to keep me emotional and confused.

    I would bet that to be the experience of most Christians who are delivered out of Arminianism.
  24. steadfast7

    steadfast7 Puritan Board Junior

    The sinner's prayer and all such gimmicks should be abandoned for being simply wrong. I agree with you on that stuff.

    the natural process, such as evangelism through relationships, and using culturally sensitive forms, is perhaps "emphasized" more by Arm'ins, but not to the denial of God and his word. I sincerely hope that the main emphasis for every evangelist is to faithfully and clearly present the gospel, and that they strive to do it in the very best way that they can. Everyone wants to see souls saved and churches planted. I am simply wondering why Calvinism, as is apparent, should want to de-emphasize the use of the socio-sciences when it so clearly is useful as a means for accomplishing the task. We should strive to do the best we can, rather than a mediocre job and leave the rest to God.

    It's not good to generalize on these matters, but some Calvinists refuse to contextualize the gospel or use culturally appropriate forms of worship because they believe that God will enlighten them, for example. But it has been shown that contextualization and cultural sensitivity makes a big difference in real situations.
  25. Mushroom

    Mushroom Puritan Board Doctor

    I don't believe you have proven the bolded part of this statement to be true.
  26. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)


    There are many more issues at stake than arminianism and calvinism.

    Calvinists sometimes fail in contextualziation because they are reacting (over-reacting) against dangerous trends in the other direction, where some have over-contextualized.

    But, knowing Heartcry, they are all for getting indigenous forms of music and local-language ministries into local cultures and local vernaculars (a form of contextualization) and appropriately contextualizing the Gospel.

    I think Washer was speaking, not of all forms of contextualization, but of the abuse and the over-use of these means and the constant search in missions for "golden keys" that - if we would just adopt this method, then world evangelization can at last be completed. He is calling us back to the hard work of Biblical missions and warning us not to run to the latest fad. I do not see this is a wholesale denunciation of all anthropology and research in missions, nor of all gradations of contextualization.

    Also, some calvinist groups have fallen behind in missions due, not to soteriology, but to over-restrictive ecclesiologies, such as Landmarkism, and over-restrictive interpretations of the regulative principle of worship which promote the exportation of cultural forms.

    Example, in Indonesia, Javanese believers once had to take Dutch names, cut their Javanese hair, wear Dutch clothing to church and - once in church - sang old dutch tunes put to the pipe organ when their indigenous music used the suling and gamelan. A total cultural mismatch. They had to become Dutch to become Christian. I do not know the theological reasons for this, or if it was merely a productof colonial-era missions, but it was performed by calvinists. But I do not see that a calvinistic soteriology would promote these bad missiological practices, but possibly overly strict ecclesiologies might.

    -----Added 12/2/2009 at 05:09:58 EST-----

    If you would like, we can start a new OP about the use of the social sciences in missions.

    Literacy, lingusitics, anthropology have all served missions well (as long as they are subordinate to the Scripture). This is easy to prove and I will do so in another OP if you would like (though I would need to tomorrow, since I have no time today).
  27. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    Let us also recognize that the huge number of non-reformed churches are siphoning resources from more biblically faithful ministries.

    I don't know exactly why Christ allows it, but he does like to do something with nothing (see Gen.1 and 1Cor.1:28).

    There's a whole lot of "effort" in some places to do missions, and the real results are slim to none.

    Instead of looking at total-dollars spent by some of the larger denominations, with their big budgets, look at per-capita giving vs. the number of missionaries, and how many are supported fully. Look at how the money is divided at the top, and works its way down to the missionary level. What are folk's money actually getting with these churches and mission-organizations, always sending out the envelopes and begging for money?

    A lot of the dog-and-pony stuff is just to get even more money to roll in. Meanwhile, the grunt-work is done by people doing lots with little.

    Boasting about "decisions" (with no transformation) and "revivals" (scheduled, coming right up!) and "mission-trip projects" (which includes lots of self-congratulatory sacrifices of wealthy suburbanites) is not a great mission effort. But it sure makes good pub.

    And lots of these guys like to brag how their visible-ministry is obviously blessed of God, and the weak, little calvinistic churches are evangelism-despisers. Unfortunately, they can't see what cannot be seen by men, and they discount the long-term effects of both the showy-stuff (deleterious) and the secret-stuff (beneficial).

    They need to read Mat.6:1ff, and Mark 4.

    In the end, only one kind of missionary keeps at his work--the one who either in his heart or in his theology (hopefully both), believes in God's sovereignty. He is a Calvinist on his knees, regardless. The rest can't help but give up (trying to do spiritual work in their own strength), go into marketing (after burning out in the field), or retire after convincing themselves that they made a difference, and God will recognize all their works.

    They need to read Mat.25:1-13.
  28. Amazing Grace

    Amazing Grace Puritan Board Junior

    Who are ''the some calvinists?" I have heard this said over and over so many times, yet have never been shown a specific example of this. Dennis, your numerous threads as of late, have a common theme of some misinformed understanding that God needs us to save souls. Saving souls is not the focus of a missionary nor any believer. Glorifying God is always the goal. When that is replaced with anything, we miss the mark. No one should share the Gospel being predominately motivated by the 'great commission', nor some love for sinners, as important as they are. They should share the Gospel to exalt the Glory of The Lord Jesus Christ. In Romans 1:5 Paul tells you this clearly. He does what he does 'for the sake of His Name'... Do a search in the scriptures how many times this phrase or something akin to it is used. For the sake of His name, His glory his etc etc. God is first and foremost about God!!!!

    There is no substitute for the pure unadulterated Gospel of Grace to be proclaimed. The Sovereignty of God and His name, His glory is the highest motivating factor I have, not saving souls. Stop thinking there is some 'trick' for missions. We worry so much about the 'means' that God sees fit to use in His providence, that the details just screw it up. It is not about anyone wanting to see souls saved or churches planted, where did you get this idea from? It is not about what we want at all. Is God dependent on man? We are only instruments, nothing more, nothing less. The thought that God uses programs to bring people to faith is a terrible misguided idea. One you should immediately flush down the toilet.

    One more thing. I attended a conference where the speaker sounded like some motivational guru. It was like a pep rally that ended with the words: "Now you're ready, so get out there and save some souls"

    I later asked the gentleman, what if I do not do it. He responded that many will end up damned because of not heeding God's call. I could not believe he said this. To think that the salvation of the elect is dependent on me is ludicrous.
  29. A.J.

    A.J. Puritan Board Junior

    There are URCNA and PCA missionaries in the Philippines. There are also other confessional Reformed folk doing missions in the other parts of Southeast Asia.

    -----Added 12/2/2009 at 08:22:56 EST-----

    Indonesia and Burma have indigenous and faithful confessional Reformed churches too.

    -----Added 12/2/2009 at 08:23:29 EST-----

    Also, there are Reformed (1689) Baptist churches in countries like the Philippines, Singapore and Malaysia.
  30. larryjf

    larryjf Puritan Board Senior

    If you could give an example of a non-contextual calvinist Gospel presentation it would help...i've never seen such an animal.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page