How far into Arminianism?

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Herald

Administrator
Staff member
FIRST - I am NOT entering the fray of Matt and Phil.

The topic I am introducing has been bugging me since I came out of Arminianism. As a Baptist I believe I deal with this controversy more than most Presbyterians (although I may be wrong).

I post on a Baptist board with the hopes of bringing the truth of the doctrines of sovereign grace to my fellow Baptists. As you can imagine, it is a tough road to hoe. I made the following post this morning with a person with whom I go toe-to-toe with regularly:


For the record, I do not hold to the view that one must be a Calvinist in order to be saved. When a person comes to faith in Jesus Christ their knowledge of theology is limited. Most only know their sin and that Jesus Christ is able to forgive their sins if they repent and place their faith solely in Christ. As they grow in respect to salvation their theology will often times tell whether their faith was accurate. For instance, if a person claims faith in Christ and then goes on to proclaim that Jesus is not God then their faith was in vain because they have denied an essential truth. They were never saved to begin with. As far as the doctrines of sovereign grace, it depends on how deep they progress into the free will side. I do not believe the foreknowledge view alone will prove their salvation false. But there are depths to the free will view that I believe do prove their salvation false. I suppose that is for another thread.
This is the view I currently hold to. There are many believers out there who are still neophytes. Their knowledge of theology is limited. They have bought into the foreknowledge view since that is what they are exposed to in their churches. But is the foreknowledge view alone enough to prove their confession of faith false? I don't believe so. I have come to appreciate the opinions of many in here so I turn it you, my brothers in Christ for your prayerful responses.

[Edited on 4-18-2006 by BaptistInCrisis]
 

BobVigneault

Bawberator
Romans 10:9 if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved."

I don't have the technical knowledge to go very deep into your question Bill but let me bring up a couple guidelines.

One, knowledge of theology can be very limited as indicated in Pauls short list of the conditions of salvation. Paul states the conditions in one verse and repeats them in a second. That is remarkably simple and concise. Justification requires no knowledge on the part of men but only that he be known by God.

Sanctification on the other hand is helped or hindered depending on our level of study, meditaion, comprehending and understanding. Theology is not just for professionals. Furthermore, if a person shows NO desire to know the things of God and His Word then we ought to call into question whether justification has taken place.

The thief on the cross was quickened and regenerated, as a result he believed that God would raise Christ from the dead, and he believed that Jesus was the ruler over death, not Rome or Satan. He was justified and expressed enough knowledge to prove his justification.

But the other guideline we need to be aware of is that the rules change for a teacher.
James 3:1 Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. 2 For we all stumble in many ways, and if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.

Pastors, elders and those who would teach are responsible for what they know and for leading or misleading their hearers. If you are a leader in the church you ought to be consumed with learning the doctrines of sovereign grace.

What's more, the knowledge that we learn will be justified by the effect it has upon our demeanor.

James 3:13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

So a love of knowledge is a sign of justification, and gentleness and good fruits are signs that the knowledge we are attaining is true wisdom.

I was once speaking to an associate pastor about election and he said, "I don't like the topic but I know it's in Romans 9 so I can't get away from it. But there's no way I understand it."
This young man had his favorite pet verses and he was content. Every single morning of the week, in his office he had time to play fantasy football online. He and his buddies would discuss their picks and plays after church service. But he didn't have time to study Romans 9. He is not the exception in the mainstream churches today. Pastors are not teaching biblical knowledge.

I am so thinkful Bill that there are pastors, teachers and elders like you on this board that are asking the right questions and love the pursuit of right thinking.
 

tellville

Puritan Board Junior
Bill, I just want to say I am in the exact same position as you! There are a string of CCSB (SBC) churches up here in Edmonton (actually, Alberta is home to most CCSB churches). Out of all these churches, there are 2 Reformed folk, myself and someone I served a mission with. Both of us are in a constant battle with everybody on the Doctrines of Grace, some more then others. My pastor and church are a little easier to deal with as my views are not viewed anywhere close to being outside of orthodoxy, but in reality, very orthodox (they just strongly disagree with me!). But in my friends church she is going through a massive battle with the leadership. Her church is home to some of the main big whigs of our convention, and well, 4 point (inconsistent) Arminianism rules the day. She is graduating with her undergrad (Agriculture) this year and can't wait to go to Southern Theological Seminary, the home of Albert Mohler (not to be a pastor, but because she hungers after God's word and desires to be a missionary to Muslims). I must say I'm a little jealous, esspecially since I will be graduating with my undergrad in a couple of days from a rank Arminian and Liberal Baptist univeristy (Rel & Theo) :banghead:

I hold a very similar position to you as well. All we can do is pray. I'll be praying for your, brother. :pray2:
 

Arch2k

Puritan Board Graduate
For the record, I do not hold to the view that one must be a Calvinist in order to be saved. When a person comes to faith in Jesus Christ their knowledge of theology is limited. Most only know their sin and that Jesus Christ is able to forgive their sins if they repent and place their faith solely in Christ . As they grow in respect to salvation their theology will often times tell whether their faith was accurate. For instance, if a person claims faith in Christ and then goes on to proclaim that Jesus is not God then their faith was in vain because they have denied an essential truth. They were never saved to begin with. As far as the doctrines of sovereign grace, it depends on how deep they progress into the free will side. I do not believe the foreknowledge view alone will prove their salvation false. But there are depths to the free will view that I believe do prove their salvation false. I suppose that is for another thread.
The $40,000 question is if a person can put their faith SOLELY in Chirst, and retain a synergistic view of salvation. Is cooperation in justification possible with Solo Christo/Sola Fide/Sola Gratia?
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
One, knowledge of theology can be very limited as indicated in Pauls short list of the conditions of salvation. Paul states the conditions in one verse and repeats them in a second. That is remarkably simple and concise. Justification requires no knowledge on the part of men but only that he be known by God
Concur.


Sanctification on the other hand is helped or hindered depending on our level of study, meditation, comprehending and understanding. Theology is not just for professionals. Furthermore, if a person shows NO desire to know the things of God and His Word then we ought to call into question whether justification has taken place.
Again, concur.


But the other guideline we need to be aware of is that the rules change for a teacher.
Bob, on face value I can accept that statement but I wonder if rank-and-file Christians are held to a different standard. When we read the qualifications for an elder (husband of one wife, not given to much wine etc.), is that any different than what any other believer is to live up to? I often wonder about that. Certainly pastors and elders must pass the test for they are responsible for the spiritual welfare of the flock of God.


So a love of knowledge is a sign of justification, and gentleness and good fruits are signs that the knowledge we are attaining is true wisdom.
Amen! Hallelujah!


I was once speaking to an associate pastor about election and he said, "I don't like the topic but I know it's in Romans 9 so I can't get away from it. But there's no way I understand it." This young man had his favorite pet verses and he was content. Every single morning of the week, in his office he had time to play fantasy football online. He and his buddies would discuss their picks and plays after church service. But he didn't have time to study Romans 9. He is not the exception in the mainstream churches today. Pastors are not teaching biblical knowledge.
While this account saddens me I have to ask, "Was the head pastor clueless?" As are the leaders, so go the people. That is a tried and tested cliche. When Israel (and then Judah) had a good king righteousness dominated. When evil reigned the people followed suit. Men need to dwell upon the holiness of God.


I am so thankful Bill that there are pastors, teachers and elders.....on this board that are asking the right questions and love the pursuit of right thinking.
Bob, I believe this should be indicative of all who desire to lead others in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. You commented earlier that you are not well versed technically. Praise be to God that you are more than able to hold your own in theologicalal conversation. I have a knowledge of the vocabulary and popular theological phrases also. But if they are the end goal then we are deceived men. May the Lord impress upon our hearts not only an insatiable desire for the truth of the word, but a heart that displays the love and compassion of the Savior. May our theology never, ever usurp Christ in us, the hope of glory!

One last thing. I am not self-indulgent when it comes to responses to a thread I start. But I was sure this one would result in more comments. Have I hit a raw nerve? Could it be that this post is on the heels of a well read debate on similar issues? I was interested in hearing some responses from those I have come to respect on the PB.

[Edited on 4-19-2006 by BaptistInCrisis]
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
Originally posted by tellville
Bill, I just want to say I am in the exact same position as you! There are a string of CCSB (SBC) churches up here in Edmonton (actually, Alberta is home to most CCSB churches). Out of all these churches, there are 2 Reformed folk, myself and someone I served a mission with. Both of us are in a constant battle with everybody on the Doctrines of Grace, some more then others. My pastor and church are a little easier to deal with as my views are not viewed anywhere close to being outside of orthodoxy, but in reality, very orthodox (they just strongly disagree with me!). But in my friends church she is going through a massive battle with the leadership. Her church is home to some of the main big whigs of our convention, and well, 4 point (inconsistent) Arminianism rules the day. She is graduating with her undergrad (Agriculture) this year and can't wait to go to Southern Theological Seminary, the home of Albert Mohler (not to be a pastor, but because she hungers after God's word and desires to be a missionary to Muslims). I must say I'm a little jealous, esspecially since I will be graduating with my undergrad in a couple of days from a rank Arminian and Liberal Baptist univeristy (Rel & Theo) :banghead:

I hold a very similar position to you as well. All we can do is pray. I'll be praying for your, brother. :pray2:
Mark, thank you. May the Lord guide your path also as you follow Him in faith.
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
The $40,000 question is if a person can put their faith SOLELY in Chirst, and retain a synergistic view of salvation. Is cooperation in justification possible with Solo Christo/Sola Fide/Sola Gratia?
Jeff, I'll answer your question with a question. Do all who claim to come to faith in Christ in a free will church ever wrestle with the issue? I never did. I came to faith in Christ (or so I have believed since 1979) in an Assembly of God church. I then went into the Air Force for four years. I wandered in sin for 18 months after I got out of the military. I then wound up in a Baptist church in Kearny, NJ. The pastor seldom preached on free will although he would say he is not a Calvinist. This was your typical dispensational, conservative Baptist church (part of the C.B.A.). I never once heard the term Calvinism, Arminianism or even one sermon on free will. What I did hear was, "A person must place their faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation." That is theologically correct. Of course from a Reformed perspective we understand that regeneration preceeds faith. I am sure if my former pastor was drilled down to explain his soteriological view free will would have come up in some fashion. Am I to believe that all who were members of that church (including myself) were not saved?

Of course I wound up leaving that church and eventually found myself embracing the doctrines of sovereign grace and losing my dispensationalism. So Jeff, am I answering your $40,000 question? Probably not. Welcome to my condundrum.
 

BobVigneault

Bawberator
May the Lord impress upon our hearts not only an insatiable desire for the truth of the word, but a heart that displays the love and compassion of the Savior. May our theology never, ever usurp Christ in us, the hope of glory!
Amen, amen!


One last thing. I am not self-indulgent when it comes to responses to a thread I start. But I was sure this one would result in more comments. Have I hit a raw nerve? Could it be that this post is on the heels of a well read debate on similar issues? I was interested in hearing some responses from those I have come to respect on the PB.
Bill I don't believe it's your post. The board has been a bit quieter than usual lately. May be fatigue, spring break, family vacations and the sabbatical of some vocal members. The interactions are somewhat subdued right now.
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
Paul starts out this epistle to the Roman Church by saying:

Rom 10:1 Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.
Rom 10:2 I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.

but not according to what? Knowledge?

G1922
ἐπιÌγνωσις
epignōsis
ip-ig'-no-sis
From G1921; recognition, that is, (by implication) full discernment, acknowledgement: - (ac-) knowledge (-ing, -ment).

Rom 10:3 For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness.

What righteousness does Paul speak of? Christ? Ultimately, these Jews had no knowledge of Christ. This raises the question, how much knowledge did they need?

Joh 3:2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him."
Joh 3:3 Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."
Joh 3:4 Nicodemus said to him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?"
Joh 3:5 Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
Joh 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
Joh 3:7 Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.'
Joh 3:8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit."
Joh 3:9 Nicodemus said to him, "How can these things be?"
Joh 3:10 Jesus answered him, "Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things?

Nicodemus did not get it at this point and he was THE teacher of Israel

Rom 10:8 But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim);

What is 'the word of faith that they proclaim'? It must be material relating to Gods righteousness.

Rom 10:9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Rom 10:10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
Rom 10:11 For the Scripture says, "Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame."

What does one have to believe? I know what I believe. Confession alone will not save; that would be equal to synergism. God would reveal certain things about Christ, mans state outside of Christ and who God is.

Rom 10:14 But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?

How many people do you know who have called out only to find their way back to the mire? I attended CC for 5 years. They had 7 services weekly. Every service there were, at the minimum, 20 people who responded to an altar call. Multiply that time 52 weeks: 36,000 people! Where are they? I didn't even include the major holiday outreaches where hundreds would come forward.
CC Ft. laud only had 7-10,000 participants while I attended. Confession does not a Christian make.

Mat 22:14 For many are called, but few are chosen.

Gods elect will have the knowledge onboard.

[Edited on 4-19-2006 by Scott Bushey]
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
Originally posted by BaptistInCrisis
The $40,000 question is if a person can put their faith SOLELY in Chirst, and retain a synergistic view of salvation. Is cooperation in justification possible with Solo Christo/Sola Fide/Sola Gratia?
Jeff, I'll answer your question with a question. Do all who claim to come to faith in Christ in a free will church ever wrestle with the issue? I never did. I came to faith in Christ (or so I have believed since 1979) in an Assembly of God church. I then went into the Air Force for four years. I wandered in sin for 18 months after I got out of the military. I then wound up in a Baptist church in Kearny, NJ. The pastor seldom preached on free will although he would say he is not a Calvinist. This was your typical dispensational, conservative Baptist church (part of the C.B.A.). I never once heard the term Calvinism, Arminianism or even one sermon on free will. What I did hear was, "A person must place their faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation." That is theologically correct. Of course from a Reformed perspective we understand that regeneration preceeds faith. I am sure if my former pastor was drilled down to explain his soteriological view free will would have come up in some fashion. Am I to believe that all who were members of that church (including myself) were not saved?

Of course I wound up leaving that church and eventually found myself embracing the doctrines of sovereign grace and losing my dispensationalism. So Jeff, am I answering your $40,000 question? Probably not. Welcome to my condundrum.
Bill,
Is it possible that you were not converted, but only regenerated?

John 3:3
 

Arch2k

Puritan Board Graduate
Originally posted by BaptistInCrisis
The $40,000 question is if a person can put their faith SOLELY in Chirst, and retain a synergistic view of salvation. Is cooperation in justification possible with Solo Christo/Sola Fide/Sola Gratia?
Jeff, I'll answer your question with a question. Do all who claim to come to faith in Christ in a free will church ever wrestle with the issue? I never did. I came to faith in Christ (or so I have believed since 1979) in an Assembly of God church. I then went into the Air Force for four years. I wandered in sin for 18 months after I got out of the military. I then wound up in a Baptist church in Kearny, NJ. The pastor seldom preached on free will although he would say he is not a Calvinist. This was your typical dispensational, conservative Baptist church (part of the C.B.A.). I never once heard the term Calvinism, Arminianism or even one sermon on free will. What I did hear was, "A person must place their faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation." That is theologically correct. Of course from a Reformed perspective we understand that regeneration preceeds faith. I am sure if my former pastor was drilled down to explain his soteriological view free will would have come up in some fashion. Am I to believe that all who were members of that church (including myself) were not saved?

Of course I wound up leaving that church and eventually found myself embracing the doctrines of sovereign grace and losing my dispensationalism. So Jeff, am I answering your $40,000 question? Probably not. Welcome to my condundrum.
Mr. Brown,

Well...I'm not sure you did answer my question! :lol:

To be honest, this has been debated alot recently, but it is an important topic, and one that needs to be brought to the spotlight in today's day and age In my humble opinion.

From what you have said Bill, (which isn't much...so I don't have alot to go off of) it seems like you would be considered back in the day, what I have called a "gospelite." It seems like you knew the biblical gospel of justification by Christ alone, through faith alone, by grace alone. It's simple isn't it? If you then found yourself in an Arminian church, eventually being taught Arminian ideals, free will, etc., I imagine that you found the teaching to be inconsistent on points, and at times at complete odds with the gospel. So Calvinism presents itself. It is consistent. It is biblical. It is the gospel in it's full expression. You liked it.

Does that mean that you were not saved that entire time?

If you never actually become Arminian, I don't see how one could answer in the affirmative.

It's all about the gospel. What is it? It is about what Christ has done for his people...not what man can do for God.

Just my humble :2cents:.
 

fivepointcalvinist

Puritan Board Sophomore
i think bob had a post a while back about arminian churches being incubators for the elect. i can personally remember being in a staunchly arminian pentecostal church, but feeling uneasy, like something was drastically wrong. their theology, even with what little i knew, was clearly in error. by Gods will, i have come to embrace the doctrines of grace. this surely did not negate my election while being in an arminian church, although it prolonged my coming to the truth. i think Gods truly elect will come to know the truth regardless what church their in, its just a matter of His timing...

:2cents:
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
I'm waiting for the top to bust off of this thread and have it explode into controversy. :)

I know we're not necessarily trying to dig up and resurrect the previous controversy but, in the interest of full disclosure, I was re-reading parts of the infamous thread. It did give me a bit of perspective on where folks were coming from and why there are some "camps".

This basic question that you present is really the heart of the issue.

A synopsis of a basic argument that some folks have typically made is this: "Look at all the Christians throughout Church History and all the millions of Christians today that don't embrace particular doctrines of Grace. Think of Wesley, think of C.S. Lewis, think of my friend who denies total depravity but I know is saved.... I know all these people are saved and Christian, ergo, to present Arminianism as a pernicious doctrine that might deny the Gospel is to consign people to Hell that I know are in Heaven."

On the other hand, some are sort of saying:
"Calvinism is Christianity. To deny a monergistic Gospel is to deny the Gospel. Those that do so are heretics and not saved...."

I know I've simplified greatly but the point is to try to draw out a basic criticism that both camps share: a presumption of salvation or damnation.

I get nervous when people begin to presume that anybody is damned or saved. Was Wesley saved or damned? I have absolutely no idea. If I'm going to criticize him, however, for the pernicious effects of his perfectionism on the souls of those who followed his doctrine, the question of his salvation is quite independent of the question of how destructive his teaching is. We also need not sentamentalize about individual Christians and wish that their imperfect understanding of the Gospel is inconsequential just because we are certain they are saved. NOBODY, except God, knows the heart of a man.

By the same token, some need to be very careful about how strident they are, in the defense of the doctrines of Grace, in being nearly certain of the damnable effects of any doctrine. I dare say one could enjoy the Doctrines of Grace because they are so intellectually stimulating and interesting but have all the pride of the reprobate (no Clarkian debates here!!!). I don't know if somebody that attends my Church has a saving knowledge of Christ or not quite frankly. I have my suspicions sometimes but it's not my place to assign categories.

OK, that all said, to the question at hand.

I believe that all error has consequences. One of the problems that I have with the "simple question" posed by Philip Way to Matt is that it is not as simple as it seems:

"Can a person who never hears or understands the doctrines of grace go to heaven?"

Well what do you mean by understands the doctrines of grace?

Let's say we agree that this statement is true: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.

Amen.

Do you suppose that Mormons have read this millions of times? To what effect? Their polytheism and denial of Christ's divinity makes it impossible for them to believe in Jesus Christ savingly. First, they deny His divinity so they deny His ability to accept divine wrath on our account. Second, they deny His atonement in that there is yet work that we need to do to be saved.

I wrestle with this same question you are asking all the time. What is that minimum content that a person needs to understand to be saved? One of the problems with this question, as I reflect, goes back to the dangerous presumption I just criticized both groups for above. That is to say: Who am I to judge when a man has been saved or unsaved by the amount of Gospel content he has received?!

What if too little information has been taught the man to understand who Christ is and what He achieved by His atonement? Am I supposed to stop criticizing a doctrine that is inhibiting that information (namely Arminianism) because I'm afraid of being labelled a hyper-Calvinist?

Even if a man has heard the Gospel right, am I supposed to assume that I'm supposed to stop worrying that it's often presented wrongly? What damage does the man being taught that he's only partly wretched do? I don't know. I know it's not true. I suppose I could throw up my hands and not worry because it seems like everybody is a Christian at that Church. Maybe the Gospel is mostly presented true where the pastor says "Jesus died for your sins" but never presents in the Gospel that He also lived to be our righteousness. Should I stop worrying about the back-end because it seems like they're mostly Christian?

I know this is stream of consciousness and a bit confusing perhaps but I have a really hard time drawing a line at which I don't worry that error might pervert the Gospel. On the one hand, I understand that God will save a neophyte with an imperfect understanding of the Word of God. On the other hand, the content of even a basic message can be poisoned with the baggage that is brought into the message (Believe on Jesus Christ...believe what?).

Thus, I'm still of the opinion that very strident warnings against errors like Arminianism are warranted. I don't think that those who make sinful hearts deathly afraid of embracing error are doing nearly as much harm as those who are encouranging others to do so. God knows the heart and God saves the heart so I will never put myself in a position of claiming that an Arminian Church is filled with the reprobate. Neither will I, however, presume that all is well either.

Being in an SBC Church myself in Okinawa I mourn and grieve over the false doctrines but I labor to teach where I can. I treat the members of my Church as baptized believers. I love them and pray for them. I don't presume they are damned even when they say things that make me wince (and sometimes weep on the inside). I pray for Grace to instruct. I am uncompromising in calling error what it is when it potentially perverts the Gospel (I have taught numerous times in Sunday School about the danger of altar calls). Energy expended, on my part, to start figuring out who has really "gotten it" is both fruitless and sinful. I just continue to plant and pray and let God be God.
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
What does one have to believe? I know what I believe. Confession alone will not save; that would be equal to synergism. God would reveal certain things about Christ, mans state outside of Christ and who God is.
Scott - forgive me for trying to capture the essence of your first response, but this quote did it for me. I concur completely with the premise that confession alone does not save. Even in my earlier days I never actually thought the sinners prayer had any salvific value. I believe salvation occurred within the immaterial part of man, wrought by God Himself. I just never understood Calvinism. The term and the doctrine(s) were foreign to me.

But I want to be careful that I do not turn this thread into an apologetic of my salvation "experience." To the extent that my pastoral concern is about the church-at-large, my concern is for others. I will agree that on a base level, if a person who has made a profession of faith in Christ Jesus, as they "mature" they find themselves moving deep in the Arminian camp, may prove that their profession was false. How deep must that move be? If they reject just one of the acronyms of T.U.L.I.P., is that proof that they were never saved to begin with? For some that would be an easy call to make. Not so for others. While I am looking at their stated theology I am also looking for the fruit of the Spirit in their life. Does their profession match their walk? Is their walk consistent with what they believe?

I look at the life of the Apostles in the gospels. Many times they did not get it. They were learning from the incarnate Lord but often times seemed more like the Three Stooges than they did the twelve Apostles. But when you look at the book of Acts, a marvelous transformation takes place. All of a sudden these oft times confused and unsure group of men assume the mantle of power provided them by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. In service to our Lord they change...radically. The knowledge that escaped them during the Lord's first advent now was with them after Pentecost. Impetuous Peter, leads the church and pens two great epistles. John and Matthew write gospel accounts of their time with the Master. Paul is called, learns directly from our Lord (Gal. 1:12) and goes on to become the most prolific author of the New Testament. All this to say that we are similar in our Christian walk. We are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise at the point of salvation (Eph. 1:13), we start off as babes (1 Cor. 3:1; Heb. 5:11) and move on to maturity (Eph. 4:13; Heb. 5:12a). If a person has been sealed with the Holy Spirit, then maturity in Christ will occur over their lifetime. Even if that lifetime is cut short (by humans standards) their should be evidence of the root taking place and progressive sanctification being seen in their life. As I understand it, this maturity is a combination of a Spirit controlled life (Gal. 5:16, 25), good works (Eph. 2:10), and growing in the knowledge of God (Col. 1:10; 2 Tim. 2:15). As I serve in a pastoral ministry, these are the evidences I am looking for in the life of a professed believer. Likewise, those who believe a false gospel will also bear the evidences of flesh. Romans says, Romans 8:7-8 7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so; 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. If a person is not in Christ, are they not in the flesh? If they are in the flesh will not the deeds of the flesh be evident (Romans 5:19-21)? Conversely, if the fruit of the Spirit is present (Eph. 5:22-25), in addition with good works and growing in the knowledge of the Lod (see earlier in this paragraph), would that not be evidence that their profession was real?

I suppose I am trying to look at the whole picture. Has this provided answers? Maybe not. But so far in this thread I believe we have proven that we do not invariably have to travel the path of contention that leads to hurt feelings. I appreciate the comments and opinion of each one of you. Even in our disagreement I am able to learn. I thank God for that.

[Edited on 4-19-2006 by BaptistInCrisis]
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
I'm waiting for the top to bust off of this thread and have it explode into controversy.
Me' genoito!

Rich, I appreciate you saying what others may be feeling, but I believe that will not be the case in this thread. The "infamous" thread you refer to (In my humble opinion) had a lot more unseen history than the words typed. If you read between the lines there was more going on there than the eye could see. It was not JUST about the topic at hand.

I started this thread because, while discussed ad infinitum/ad nauseum, it still nags at the soul of many. It nags at mine! The thoughtful (and I believe prayerful) responses in this thread are proof to me that the intent will not degrade.
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
Originally posted by SemperFideles
I'm waiting for the top to bust off of this thread and have it explode into controversy. :)

I know we're not necessarily trying to dig up and resurrect the previous controversy but, in the interest of full disclosure, I was re-reading parts of the infamous thread. It did give me a bit of perspective on where folks were coming from and why there are some "camps".

This basic question that you present is really the heart of the issue.

A synopsis of a basic argument that some folks have typically made is this: "Look at all the Christians throughout Church History and all the millions of Christians today that don't embrace particular doctrines of Grace. Think of Wesley, think of C.S. Lewis, think of my friend who denies total depravity but I know is saved.... I know all these people are saved and Christian, ergo, to present Arminianism as a pernicious doctrine that might deny the Gospel is to consign people to Hell that I know are in Heaven."

On the other hand, some are sort of saying:
"Calvinism is Christianity. To deny a monergistic Gospel is to deny the Gospel. Those that do so are heretics and not saved...."

I know I've simplified greatly but the point is to try to draw out a basic criticism that both camps share: a presumption of salvation or damnation.

I get nervous when people begin to presume that anybody is damned or saved. Was Wesley saved or damned? I have absolutely no idea. If I'm going to criticize him, however, for the pernicious effects of his perfectionism on the souls of those who followed his doctrine, the question of his salvation is quite independent of the question of how destructive his teaching is. We also need not sentamentalize about individual Christians and wish that their imperfect understanding of the Gospel is inconsequential just because we are certain they are saved. NOBODY, except God, knows the heart of a man.

By the same token, some need to be very careful about how strident they are, in the defense of the doctrines of Grace, in being nearly certain of the damnable effects of any doctrine. I dare say one could enjoy the Doctrines of Grace because they are so intellectually stimulating and interesting but have all the pride of the reprobate (no Clarkian debates here!!!). I don't know if somebody that attends my Church has a saving knowledge of Christ or not quite frankly. I have my suspicions sometimes but it's not my place to assign categories.

OK, that all said, to the question at hand.

I believe that all error has consequences. One of the problems that I have with the "simple question" posed by Philip Way to Matt is that it is not as simple as it seems:

"Can a person who never hears or understands the doctrines of grace go to heaven?"

Well what do you mean by understands the doctrines of grace?

Let's say we agree that this statement is true: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.

Amen.

Do you suppose that Mormons have read this millions of times? To what effect? Their polytheism and denial of Christ's divinity makes it impossible for them to believe in Jesus Christ savingly. First, they deny His divinity so they deny His ability to accept divine wrath on our account. Second, they deny His atonement in that there is yet work that we need to do to be saved.

I wrestle with this same question you are asking all the time. What is that minimum content that a person needs to understand to be saved? One of the problems with this question, as I reflect, goes back to the dangerous presumption I just criticized both groups for above. That is to say: Who am I to judge when a man has been saved or unsaved by the amount of Gospel content he has received?!

What if too little information has been taught the man to understand who Christ is and what He achieved by His atonement? Am I supposed to stop criticizing a doctrine that is inhibiting that information (namely Arminianism) because I'm afraid of being labelled a hyper-Calvinist?

Even if a man has heard the Gospel right, am I supposed to assume that I'm supposed to stop worrying that it's often presented wrongly? What damage does the man being taught that he's only partly wretched do? I don't know. I know it's not true. I suppose I could throw up my hands and not worry because it seems like everybody is a Christian at that Church. Maybe the Gospel is mostly presented true where the pastor says "Jesus died for your sins" but never presents in the Gospel that He also lived to be our righteousness. Should I stop worrying about the back-end because it seems like they're mostly Christian?

I know this is stream of consciousness and a bit confusing perhaps but I have a really hard time drawing a line at which I don't worry that error might pervert the Gospel. On the one hand, I understand that God will save a neophyte with an imperfect understanding of the Word of God. On the other hand, the content of even a basic message can be poisoned with the baggage that is brought into the message (Believe on Jesus Christ...believe what?).

Thus, I'm still of the opinion that very strident warnings against errors like Arminianism are warranted. I don't think that those who make sinful hearts deathly afraid of embracing error are doing nearly as much harm as those who are encouranging others to do so. God knows the heart and God saves the heart so I will never put myself in a position of claiming that an Arminian Church is filled with the reprobate. Neither will I, however, presume that all is well either.

Being in an SBC Church myself in Okinawa I mourn and grieve over the false doctrines but I labor to teach where I can. I treat the members of my Church as baptized believers. I love them and pray for them. I don't presume they are damned even when they say things that make me wince (and sometimes weep on the inside). I pray for Grace to instruct. I am uncompromising in calling error what it is when it potentially perverts the Gospel (I have taught numerous times in Sunday School about the danger of altar calls). Energy expended, on my part, to start figuring out who has really "gotten it" is both fruitless and sinful. I just continue to plant and pray and let God be God.
Rich - I don't know you from a hill of beans. I have never met you and we may never meet in this life. But I sit here typing my response with tears in my eyes. I see a kindred spirit in the things of God. We're in the same boat. We just don't have an easy answer. But we grieve over the false doctrine that is pervasive in the church today. May you continue to bless and be blessed in the S.B.C. you are attending. I will pray for you and those you worship with my brother.
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
Originally posted by Scott Bushey
Originally posted by BaptistInCrisis
The $40,000 question is if a person can put their faith SOLELY in Chirst, and retain a synergistic view of salvation. Is cooperation in justification possible with Solo Christo/Sola Fide/Sola Gratia?
Jeff, I'll answer your question with a question. Do all who claim to come to faith in Christ in a free will church ever wrestle with the issue? I never did. I came to faith in Christ (or so I have believed since 1979) in an Assembly of God church. I then went into the Air Force for four years. I wandered in sin for 18 months after I got out of the military. I then wound up in a Baptist church in Kearny, NJ. The pastor seldom preached on free will although he would say he is not a Calvinist. This was your typical dispensational, conservative Baptist church (part of the C.B.A.). I never once heard the term Calvinism, Arminianism or even one sermon on free will. What I did hear was, "A person must place their faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation." That is theologically correct. Of course from a Reformed perspective we understand that regeneration preceeds faith. I am sure if my former pastor was drilled down to explain his soteriological view free will would have come up in some fashion. Am I to believe that all who were members of that church (including myself) were not saved?

Of course I wound up leaving that church and eventually found myself embracing the doctrines of sovereign grace and losing my dispensationalism. So Jeff, am I answering your $40,000 question? Probably not. Welcome to my condundrum.
Bill,
Is it possible that you were not converted, but only regenerated?

John 3:3
Scott, of course. Do I know this for certain? How is this for a journey:

In 3rd grade I was invited to a VBS type program where I heard the "gospel" for the firs time. I made a profession but not in according to understanding.

Two years later another VBS invite. More information. Still a lack of understanding

In my senior year of High School my mother claims to come to faith in Christ and starts witnessing to me. I believe she is nuts.

I finally breakdown and go with her to a church service at pentecostal chuch in Harrison, NJ. I hear the "gospel" and later that evening place my faith in Christ.

Three months later I go into the Air Force and wander from my faith.

18 months after I get out I step into a Baptist church in my hometown (Kearny, NJ) and begin to get grounded in God's word.

Two years later I attend the Word of Life Bible Institute for one year and meet my wife.

After getting married I attend a Baptist church in Maryland for 11 years that holds to the Arminian view of salvation.

Towards the end of that 11 year period I read and study the book of Romans. I embrace Calvinism and the doctrine of sovereign grace.

My church plants a church plant project ten miles north (in the town in which I reside). I leave to attend the new church. The pastor of the new church is Arminian.

Today...5 1/2 years later, the pastor is a Calvinist and so is the board of elders (of which I am one). The doctrines of sovereign grace are being taught in our church in all areas.

Scott - so in answer (again) to your first quesion...yes...possible, if not probable. The question I cannot answer? Where in that littany did I truly come to faith! :candle:
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Originally posted by BaptistInCrisis
Rich - I don't know you from a hill of beans. I have never met you and we may never meet in this life. But I sit here typing my response with tears in my eyes. I see a kindred spirit in the things of God. We're in the same boat. We just don't have an easy answer. But we grieve over the false doctrine that is pervasive in the church today. May you continue to bless and be blessed in the S.B.C. you are attending. I will pray for you and those you worship with my brother.
God bless you brother.
 

Cuirassier

Puritan Board Freshman
Rich,

I too, will echo Bill's words. Your April 18 post had the humility, sincerity and seeking for Christlikness that I believe should encourage us all.

I too, find myself at odds with my North American Baptist church. Some members hold to the doctrines of grace expressely, others do so unwittingly due to their spiritual immaturity, and still others have dispensational leanings. Do I agree with all I see? No. Would l like to see the church mature and progress in their grasp of scripture? Yes.

The leadership of the church has seen fit to ask me to employ my skills for the Lord through teaching and leading Bible study classes. I have embraced it as a calling to help believers progress from milk to meat.

Thanks for your post, Rich - you very much model what I am seeking to do in my own church.

In Him,

dl
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
Originally posted by BaptistInCrisis
Originally posted by Scott Bushey
Originally posted by BaptistInCrisis
The $40,000 question is if a person can put their faith SOLELY in Chirst, and retain a synergistic view of salvation. Is cooperation in justification possible with Solo Christo/Sola Fide/Sola Gratia?
Jeff, I'll answer your question with a question. Do all who claim to come to faith in Christ in a free will church ever wrestle with the issue? I never did. I came to faith in Christ (or so I have believed since 1979) in an Assembly of God church. I then went into the Air Force for four years. I wandered in sin for 18 months after I got out of the military. I then wound up in a Baptist church in Kearny, NJ. The pastor seldom preached on free will although he would say he is not a Calvinist. This was your typical dispensational, conservative Baptist church (part of the C.B.A.). I never once heard the term Calvinism, Arminianism or even one sermon on free will. What I did hear was, "A person must place their faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation." That is theologically correct. Of course from a Reformed perspective we understand that regeneration preceeds faith. I am sure if my former pastor was drilled down to explain his soteriological view free will would have come up in some fashion. Am I to believe that all who were members of that church (including myself) were not saved?

Of course I wound up leaving that church and eventually found myself embracing the doctrines of sovereign grace and losing my dispensationalism. So Jeff, am I answering your $40,000 question? Probably not. Welcome to my condundrum.
Bill,
Is it possible that you were not converted, but only regenerated?

John 3:3
Scott, of course. Do I know this for certain? How is this for a journey:

In 3rd grade I was invited to a VBS type program where I heard the "gospel" for the firs time. I made a profession but not in according to understanding.

Two years later another VBS invite. More information. Still a lack of understanding

In my senior year of High School my mother claims to come to faith in Christ and starts witnessing to me. I believe she is nuts.

I finally breakdown and go with her to a church service at pentecostal chuch in Harrison, NJ. I hear the "gospel" and later that evening place my faith in Christ.

Three months later I go into the Air Force and wander from my faith.

18 months after I get out I step into a Baptist church in my hometown (Kearny, NJ) and begin to get grounded in God's word.

Two years later I attend the Word of Life Bible Institute for one year and meet my wife.

After getting married I attend a Baptist church in Maryland for 11 years that holds to the Arminian view of salvation.

Towards the end of that 11 year period I read and study the book of Romans. I embrace Calvinism and the doctrine of sovereign grace.

My church plants a church plant project ten miles north (in the town in which I reside). I leave to attend the new church. The pastor of the new church is Arminian.

Today...5 1/2 years later, the pastor is a Calvinist and so is the board of elders (of which I am one). The doctrines of sovereign grace are being taught in our church in all areas.

Scott - so in answer (again) to your first quesion...yes...possible, if not probable. The question I cannot answer? Where in that littany did I truly come to faith! :candle:
Bill,
I commend you! This is an important fact. It keeps everone honest. It says that the Arminian may be in error, regenerate, yet not converted. The elect will abandon the error of Arminianism and embrace truth. It helps explain the mystery.

[Edited on 4-19-2006 by Scott Bushey]
 

BaptistCanuk

Puritan Board Sophomore
When I first learned about Calvinism I wanted to hit the guy. It didn't make sense to me. Over time I became a "zealot" of Calvinism. Then I got tired of myself and everyone else only talking about Calvinism. I drifted towards the middle. The thought that God could hate me was devastating. I am just now starting to recover from that. I recognize that the Bible teaches both God's Sovereignty and man's responsibility. I don't understand how it works but the Bible teaches it. I have to accept it.
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
Brian,
Gods sovereignty and mans responsibility are not at odds. It is not antinomous. Maybe this may help clarify: All men are responsible; the elect and reprobate. Christ came to save and reconcile His people, the elect only! This reconciliation enables the sinner, Christs elect, to repent and turn to God, leaving the non elect sinner in a reprobate state.

[Edited on 4-19-2006 by Scott Bushey]
 

Cuirassier

Puritan Board Freshman
Originally posted by Scott Bushey
Brian,
Gods sovereignty and mans responsibility are not at odds. It is not antinomous. Maybe this may help clarify: All men are responsible; the elect and reprobate. Christ came to save and reconcile His people, the elect only! This reconciliation enables the sinner, Christs elect, to repent and turn to God, leaving the non elect sinner in a reprobate state.

[Edited on 4-19-2006 by Scott Bushey]
:amen:
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
Originally posted by BaptistCanuk
Scott, I don't disagree.
I didn't think you did Brian; I just wanted to emphasize that it is not so mysterious.........

[Edited on 4-19-2006 by Scott Bushey]
 

cih1355

Puritan Board Junior
When I was in the military, I went to a military school for about a year in Alabama. I attended a Baptist church where the people believed that God elected them because God knew that they would choose Him. Moreover, they also believed that Christ alone saves people from their sin and that man contributes nothing to his salvation. They believed that man is chosen by God on the basis of his faith and at the same time believed that man has no goodness.

They had contradictory beliefs, but they did not know it.
 

BobVigneault

Bawberator
Curt's post got me to start thinking in a different direction. I'm going to make a bold statement that Arminianism doesn't really exist today. We have drawn these distinctions because we are traditionalists, classicalists, calvinists. We hold to a reverence of history and we learn from it and dare to build on it.

We recognize a great similarity between post-modern church theology (or lack of) and historical arminianism and then we declare that todays arminian churches are inconsistent. I say, the churches today are inconsistent first. The similarity to arminianism is only perceived by we traditionalists but what's really happening is truth is being determined by sentiment. We do the historic arminians a diservice by comparing them to the post-modern church. The historic arminians were at least thinkers, they knew how to argue, they made an attempt to be rational. The historic arminians wouldn't wonder about how to deal with homosexual marriage.

Today's church culture has none of the moorings of the historic arminians. Today's church culture has no systematic, no creed, and they have effectively lost the Word. The question isn't 'how deep into arminianism can you go?', the question is 'how much ignorance and laziness can be tolerated by the mind and still be called 'converted'.

Here are some charts from another site to remind us of the contrasts between traditional and post-modern church culture.

http://www.crossroad.to/charts/postmodernity-2.htm

I believe we give the post-modern church too much credit by calling them arminian. The post-modern church is entertainment, a feel good circus, an opiate, and it shows similarities to historic arminianism but it's too lazy and ignorant to even kown that, or care.

[Edited on 4-20-2006 by BobVigneault]
 

Ivan

Pastor
As I look at the list of attributes of the post-modern church I am amazed that we call them a "church". They certainly aren't Christian.

I don't know what they are and I'm glad I belong to the Lord.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Originally posted by BobVigneault
Curt's post got me to start thinking in a different direction. I'm going to make a bold statement that Arminianism doesn't really exist today. We have drawn these distinctions because we are traditionalists, classicalists, calvinists. We hold to a reverence of history and we learn from it and dare to build on it.

We recognize a great similarity between post-modern church theology (or lack of) and historical arminianism and then we declare that todays arminian churches are inconsistent. I say, the churches today are inconsistent first. The similarity to arminianism is only perceived by we traditionalists but what's really happening is truth is being determined by sentiment. We do the historic arminians a diservice by comparing them to the post-modern church. The historic arminians were at least thinkers, they knew how to argue, they made an attempt to be rational. The historic arminians wouldn't wonder about how to deal with homosexual marriage.

Today's church culture has none of the moorings of the historic arminians. Today's church culture has no systematic, no creed, and they have effectively lost the Word. The question isn't 'how deep into arminianism can you go?', the question is 'how much ignorance and laziness can be tolerated by the mind and still be called 'converted'.

Here are some charts from another site to remind us of the contrasts between traditional and post-modern church culture.

http://www.crossroad.to/charts/postmodernity-2.htm

I believe we give the post-modern church too much credit by calling them arminian. The post-modern church is entertainment, a feel good circus, an opiate, and it shows similarities to historic arminianism but it's too lazy and ignorant to even kown that, or care.
I understand what you're saying Bob. I never really think of these Churches as practically systematic in any way. When I use "Arminian" these days, I refer to those who have some brand of semi-Pelagianism. While not systematic, the presuppositions that guide them can be loosely related. They flow from the same fount.
 

BaptistCanuk

Puritan Board Sophomore
Originally posted by Ivan
As I look at the list of attributes of the post-modern church I am amazed that we call them a "church". They certainly aren't Christian.

I don't know what they are and I'm glad I belong to the Lord.
This is a hard statement for me to accept. Rest of post deleted due to my stupid assumption. My apologies.

[Edited on 4-20-2006 by BaptistCanuk]
 
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