Invite Arminians to the Lord's Table?

Discussion in 'Calvinism & The Doctrines of Grace' started by non dignus, Jun 8, 2007.

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  1. non dignus

    non dignus Puritan Board Sophomore

    A member of your Reformed, Presbyterian, or Particular Baptist church suddenly 'sees the light' and is 'wonderfully' transformed by his discovery of Pietistic doctrine and methodology.

    Along with that he now believes that the Synod of Dort was misguided in their hasty condemnation of the Remonstrants. He is utterly convinced of this, and there is no turning him back.

    Do you allow him to the table?
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2007
  2. larryjf

    larryjf Puritan Board Senior

    If they repent of their sins, believe in Christ for salvation, and love their fellow man.

    If, however, they were causing division in the church, i would have to say no.
  3. brymaes

    brymaes Puritan Board Sophomore

    Depending on the exigencies of the situation, they would be disallowed from the table after the due process of discipline.
  4. Jeff_Bartel

    Jeff_Bartel Puritan Board Graduate

    No. I posted this in the other thread, but Owen is spot on here.

  5. non dignus

    non dignus Puritan Board Sophomore

    No, they are not causing outward division per se. He has only confessed to the elders his new belief.
  6. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    A very interesting thread, indeed. In our particular situation we are a church in transition. We were founded seven years ago as an Arminian Baptist church. The pastor and elders are now Calvinists, but the flock is a mixed bag. We are morphing (theologically speaking), but it is going to take time.

    I'd like to revist this thread in five years.
  7. non dignus

    non dignus Puritan Board Sophomore

  8. AV1611

    AV1611 Puritan Board Senior

    What do you mean by "Pietistic doctrine and methodology"?

    As for the question "Invite Arminians to the Lord's Table?" I answer with a resounding "No!"
  9. turmeric

    turmeric Megerator

    Yes, Trevor, but maybe these people need to find a church more in agreement with their theology.

    I wonder what caused this sudden shift.
  10. non dignus

    non dignus Puritan Board Sophomore

    AV and Trevor,

    I meant the sort of Pietism that says the individual has some kind of inherent merit that gives the necessary boost to be saved. All Arminians are Pietists.
  11. turmeric

    turmeric Megerator

    Sorry Trevor, I didn't mean you shifted. I was asking what made this person suddenly become Arminian. I agree he's still a Christian.
  12. dannyhyde

    dannyhyde Puritan Board Sophomore

    Hi Dave,

    Thankfully in our churches those who desire to unite with us take sacred, binding vows at the time of their public reception into the church. In our synodically-approved Public Profession of Faith: Form Number 1 (Psalter Hymnal, p. 132), we all assented to the fourth vow, which says,

    "Fourth: Do you promise to submit to the government of the church and also, if you should become deliquent either in doctrine or in life, to submit to its admonition and discipline?"

    It is the role of the elders to oversee the spiritual life of the church as a whole as well as its members individually, including the doctrine of the church and its members. Remind him that he also assented to vow 1:

    "First: Do you heartily believe the doctrine contained in the Old and the New Testament, and in the articles of the Christian faith [i.e., the Creed], and taught in this Christian church [i.e., our Three Forms of Unity], to be the true and complete doctrine of salvation, and do you promise by the grace of God stedfastly to continue in this profession?"

    Obviously he has changed his mind on vow 1, which means you must invoke vow 4, and seek to persuade him lovingly of his error and his need to return in heart and mind to the true faith. If he persists, follow the procedures in Church Order article 55, which begins with 'silent censure,' meaning he would be barred from the Table.

    As for the larger question of whom we welcome to the Table, well, that's muddled in these days of broad evangelicalism and its influence even among Reformed-minded people. Our historic practice as Reformed and Presbyterian churches has been to welcome members of Reformed churches, period. In our tradition, one need only read Calvin's Ecclesiastical Ordinances as well as the Church Order of Dort:

    None shall be admitted to the Lord’s Supper except those who?according to the usage of the Church to which they unite themselves?have made a confession of the Reformed Religion, besides being reputed to be of a godly walk, without which also those who come from other?Churches shall not be admitted. (art. 61)
  13. non dignus

    non dignus Puritan Board Sophomore

    Good stuff. So while Dort may not have used the word 'heretic' in describing the Remonstrants, excommunication sends a clear message regarding their opinion of the eternal destiny of the hardened Arminian.
  14. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    I think as Rev. Hyde pointed out the issue is an issue of Church discipline. This thread title is misleading and a bit unnecessarily inflammatory because it is quite a different case, genetically, when you're talking about a man rejecting his Confession in favor of doctrines his Confession clearly condemns and a man who, in the words of the book of Jonah, doesn't know his right hand from his left.

    I thought about this today before Church. As usual we had a new couple visiting and we were all very happy to see them. What did they believe? I don't know. We don't usually grill people theologically when they first enter the door. My hope is that they stay to hear the preaching and stay to be taught in Sunday School and join. If they are immature, I hope they grow in grace.

    What I didn't think in my heart is this: "Uggg, I bet they're Arminians! Grrrrrrrr!!!!"

    Seriously, do any of you who have your occassional visitors in your URC, OPC, PCA, etc Churches immediately look at your visitors and have such unwelcome thoughts in your hearts? Do you not hope that these might be visitors who have an opportunity to hear the Gospel? If already Christians then what a joy that they get to be encouraged and strengthened by the Gospel. If unbelievers (or even those who were impoverished in a Calvary Chapel) perhaps the day is the day that God has prepared for them to hear the Gospel and live!

    Weren't most of us once the types that thought the Arminian and Charismatic expressions of Christianity were normative. Were we worthy of derision on a theoretical basis then?

    Why can we not attack a doctrine as un-Scriptural and severe error that impoverishes or kills the Gospel without focusing so much on the sheep as if its they're fault that they're being poisoned by their Shepherds? Why do we not pity them and be ready to welcome them to hear the truth instead of thinking of ways that we are going to have to discipline some of them. I'm as hard core as any man on this board when it comes to affirming the need for truth to have unity and I'm not afraid to stand for it.

    But when I think of people, I simply have trouble thinking of generic Arminians without thinking of the specific men and women that I would love to see visit my Church for an opportunity to hear Truth. I am uncomfortable talking about them generically because then I'd see one and think: "Hey, we were just talking about you behind your back on the PuritanBoard. In theory, I thought you were a real jerk but, please, stick around for Church and maybe after you're converted I'll like you."
  15. Peter

    Peter Puritan Board Junior

    The church is definitely broader than any particular church but do we admit anyone who is a member of any church? Should we have common communion with Greek Orthodox or Roman Catholicism?

    I tend to think if there is reason enough for two communions to remain separate then they should also take communion separately. But I also think many of the reasons for continued separation are trifling and unworthy of spliting the body of Christ. The denominationalism of the present age is indeed sinful. I think its also a sign that people don't take the importance of the church's unity seriously when they're content to continuously fracture the church and yet they're still willing to share the Lord's Supper together.
  16. Puritanhead

    Puritanhead Puritan Board Professor

    You Reformed are prone to so much melodrama. Ask yourselves what would Jesus Do? Remember the woman at the well.

    You can tacitly rebuke in the spirit of 2 Timothy 2:24-25, but they are confessional Christians, and it's asinine for you guys to say such people are barred from fellowship at your house or dinner table, absent provocation or their concerted efforts to bring down the faith of Reformed brethren.
  17. Peter

    Peter Puritan Board Junior

    The question was, do we admit anyone to the table that is in the Universal Church visible, regardless of disagreements in doctrine and practice? If yes then we should allow RCs but this is a conclusion most reformed evangelicals would dispute. If the middle premise is disputed (the RC is a visible church) then you are the person with a denominationally elitist, narrow view of the church.
  18. thekingsknight

    thekingsknight Puritan Board Freshman

    Scenario: You profess to have repented of your sins. On the basis of that profession (granted, with some observation as well) you are baptized & become a member of a particular church. Now, you have an obligation to abide by your church constitution, your confession of faith, and the word of God. Which is the greater? I think that we all know the answer.
    BTW, error does NOT equal heresy. There's a great divide between RC'S & Armenians.
  19. non dignus

    non dignus Puritan Board Sophomore

    brother. Rich,

    I'm surprised that you take the thread as a mean-spirited Calvinist witch hunt. I can only point to my lack of ability, and brevity in communicating through print, for your misperception. How did you get the idea that we despise people who are lost?

    My motivation for the thread was to show that Arminianism is not a light error but is and ought to be treated with extreme severity. To be put out of the church is to be put into outer darkness. Does the action of a consistory condemn eternally? No, of course not. But decisions from a God-ordained body holding the office of the keys have grave import since they are acting for and abiding in the very kingdom of God. We are saying, "Unless you repent, we account you as utterly lost." The hope is that they WILL repent and return to the fold. It is for their own good.

    You are right, it is a church discipline issue. But a man who does not know his right hand from his left is likewise kept from the table for his own good. Would you allow an inquiring Arminian to the Lord's Table in a Presbyterian Church? (BTW We rent the small chapel of a larger New Age church. I am tickled when one of their stray sheep wander into our service thinking they're going to be hearing the gnostic garbage they came for. I don't direct them away, but receive them and pray that their visit is actually a foreordained appointment with the sovereign God for deliverance.) I don't see where fencing the Table from the serpent's devices is harming sheep who are inquiring the gospel. I say to the contrary!

    My derision is not for the lost sheep who recognize the Shepherd's voice. My derision is only for the hardened Arminian who understands and rejects Calvinism, for then it is manifest he DOES NOT recognize the Shepherd's voice.

    Last edited: Jun 11, 2007
  20. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    Fair enough David. I don't have ill thoughts of you. I simply believe we can speak about false doctrine (Arminianism) without theorizing about the lost and the ignorant.

    I don't believe that fencing the table is a mean-spirited thing but a protective (and in fact loving) thing to do.

    The thread just seemed to come close on the heels of another thread on Arminianism. I simply believe that we spend too much time theorizing about theoretical Arminians and they end up being spoken of in a way that we would not think of them if a man or woman was standing before us. Why? Because we'd be unable to detect one fully if they were initially. We'd want to patiently correct such a one to hope that the man/woman is not obdurate. We'd want to be patient with them to ensure that we are not the stumbling block but the Gospel really is.

    We'd even be praying for and warning the man in the hypothetical situation presented. We'd warn him of the dangers of the doctrine he is embracing. To temporarily fence a man from the Table on the first Sunday he demonstrates a doubt of the Gospel would be a very sad ocassion and give me great reason for concern. When I think of such scenarios, I think of actual men that I grieved over who ended up denying the faith and destroying their families. They were good friends and we prayed for their repentance repeatedly before some were excommunicated.

    I guess I would simply prefer that we continue to hate false doctrines with all our might and keep the theoretical "Arminian" discussions to a minimum because it belies the way we would want to really treat a man in our midst.

    I'm sorry if I attributed wrong motives to your post. I'm just trying to underline a repeated point and yours was another opportunity to do so.
  21. thekingsknight

    thekingsknight Puritan Board Freshman

    Sorry if I'm off target here, but: What does the individual need to repent of, church policy or actual sin commited against God? Arminians not being sheep? Says who, you? Have you read this?
    "Do you think we shall see John Wesley in heaven?" an over-aggressive Calvinist had inquired of George Whitefield years earlier (Wesley outlived Whitefield). "I fear not," replied the fellow evangelist, musing about his long-time friend. "No!-he will be so near the throne, and we at such a distance, that we shall hardly get a sight of him." Was George Whitefield being facetious? Our church announces that "Anyone who is a member in good standing of a true church of Jesus Christ may partake".
  22. turmeric

    turmeric Megerator

    Not that anyone needs it; but here's my :2cents: . This is a matter of church discipline - the man subscribed to a confession, he did an about-face, this violates the policy of the congregation he joined - his session has a right to decide what's best to do in that case. However, there's another question that I wish wouldn't keep coming up. Apparently some folks consider Arminianism to be enough of a declension from the Gospel as to make one's Christian profession questionable. I don't agree with that in all cases. In the one presented here, though, I do wonder (in an academic sense) because this guy was knowedgeable enough to question Dort - he's not your average poorly-fed sheep such as Rich encounters. But I don't know, and we can't know.
  23. Jeff_Bartel

    Jeff_Bartel Puritan Board Graduate

    I agree that it is up to church censures to determine who is and who is not an Arminian, but that being said, historically, the reformed have not allowed those who openly profess Arminianism, without a willingness to be taught, to the table of our Lord. So if one wants to chop this thread up to church discipline, the church has already made her pronouncement in the Canons of Dort:

  24. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    I don't know what you mean by "chop it up". Granted, the Canons prescribe that it is an error that needs to be censured. Censure, then, is in the realm of discipline. The point is that you don't immediately label a man a publican but there is a process that includes levels of discipline from instruction to eventual excommunication in the worst cases. Each Church has a discipline process and that process is not cavalier - it is pastoral, it seeks to teach first and reconcile and restore and only resorts to excommunication as a final (and painful) measure.
  25. non dignus

    non dignus Puritan Board Sophomore

    He needs to repent of his departure from the confession hammered out by the church 'which is the pillar and ground of the truth'. It is vain faith or heresy.
    I assert that the seasoned Arminian who has studied the doctrines of grace (canons of Dort) and understands what is confessed in them, and yet rejects them, does not have Christ as Shepherd but has a figment of his imagination.
  26. thekingsknight

    thekingsknight Puritan Board Freshman

    Really??!! Please do give supporting rationale & make it scriptural.
    1-The "pillar of faith" is NOT your local assembly as an individual entity but the church universal/invisible. If he is in violation of church policy he should resign so as to not sow discord. He shouldn't be denied the Lord's supper. He has NOT sinned against the Lord nor His commandments.
    2-Does he acknowledge and confess that Christ is the way, the truth and the life? Does he acknowledge and confess that there is no other name under heaven given whereby he can be saved? Does he call out to God for the forgiveness of sins and repents (to God!) of them? Then what's the problem? He doesn't in good conscience believe what you believe-that makes him a devil? Read my testimony following this post-and see how the righteous CAN fall, but by God's grace and mercy rise again. Do not confuse the weakest saint for the grossest sinner.
  27. thekingsknight

    thekingsknight Puritan Board Freshman

    Arminians & the Lord's table

    My Testimony of God’s Grace and Mercy.
    Ted Shipley
    I was converted in July of 1974, when a co-worker asked me if I believed in God. Having been forewarned that he was a “religious” man, going about, spreading his religion, I was ready (so I thought) to give him an answer. I responded by saying that I believed in God, but would have nothing to do with religion. “There, that ought to do it! That’ll stop him”, I said to myself. After all, it had worked before with others. To my surprise however, he wasn’t thwarted. Instead, he asked again if I believed in God, and if so, what was it that I believed concerning Him. I rambled something to the effect that God is good and watches over us, that we were to call on him in time of need. After patiently listening, the co-worker asked if I had ever read the Bible. When I told him that I hadn’t, he opened his Bible and told me about the holiness of God, the sinfulness of man, the need for repentance, and salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, showing me many verses. Seeing that I was under conviction, he seized the opportunity to ask me if I would like to go to the mid-week morning service being held the following day. I agreed to go. The following day, while preparing to go to church, I asked myself what in the world was I doing. I hadn’t attended church in years. Even when my wife asked me to accompany her one Easter Sunday, I declined. Yet here I was, preparing to attend this day. At the church, I felt as if I was truly in the house of God and before His presence. I was so awestruck, that I have no recollection as to what the sermon’s topic was. All I could think about was how Holy God is, and the reality of how sinful I was. When the invitation (altar call) was given to come to Jesus, I felt the need to go, and my co-worker went with me. Now I really felt as if I was standing before God. I couldn’t take it anymore. I dropped to my knees, and cried out for forgiveness. Something happened, which at the time I only knew as “having my burden of sin” lifted/removed. I had become a new creature in Christ. Like many new converts, I had a desire to tell the whole world about the Good News of Jesus Christ. All I wanted to do was to live for Christ.
    “…I will lay down my life for your sake.” “…Will you lay down your life for my sake?” –John 13:37, 38.
    Oh, how these verses burn deep in my soul! Never did I imagine that I could, that I would, fall from Grace, but I didn’t know myself as well as I thought. I thought myself to be strong when really I was weak. The measure of my pride, turned out to be the measure of my fall. It didn’t happen suddenly, but rather, slowly, through the lack of discipline in the things pertaining to faith. Later came the awful lies of the Devil, having me believe that surely I had lost my salvation. This was agonizing. I wrestled with the scriptures, trying to arrive at the truth. On the one hand, I knew that God had not abandoned me, but on the other hand, looking at my deeds, surely I had abandoned God. This was the Devil’s laughter. The scriptures warn us to be sober, to be vigilant, because the Devil seeks whom he may devour. Let those that think they stand take heed, less they also fall. It is with sadness, and shame that I mention this time, but it does serve to show both the power of sin, and the power of Satan, as the Hymn says, “…on Earth is not his equal.” Because I wasn’t fulfilling my obligation to my household, God started dealing with my wife. She started attending a nearby church, reading and studying her Bible, and praying. I was cut to the heart. I repented of my sins, and just as I was about to attend the church, my wife mentioned that there was a woman pastor. I said, “Oh, no! Women aren’t to be pastors, I’m not going there.” Well, I had to look for another church. This led me to Trinity Reformed Baptist Church in Baltimore, MD, where God restored the years that the locust and the caterpillar had eaten.
    I currently live in Palmdale, CA and am a member of Free Grace Church (A Reformed Baptist Congregation).
  28. non dignus

    non dignus Puritan Board Sophomore

    Hi Ted,

    I recommend you get a copy of the 3 Forms of Unity and study the Canons of Dort. It is complete with scripture references. I'd be happy to mail you one if you U2U me.
  29. non dignus

    non dignus Puritan Board Sophomore


    You should at least properly catechize them before they approach the Holy.

    It's no different here in the U.S.. We are surrounded by the ROP, and when new members come in we ask them to read the entire 3 Forms and sign it. They don't have to know the minutae of it. The teacher of the class explains it well enough that if any part of it is odious to the novice he cannot become a member.

    brother. Trevor,
    Are you doing 'emergency' communion over there? :lol: Is there such a thing? Surely you give them a little doctrine first?
  30. Jeff_Bartel

    Jeff_Bartel Puritan Board Graduate

    My wife lovingly corrected my poor grammar. I meant to say "chalk it up". :lol:

    I agree Rich. My only point was that this thread is not about any particular person, but a class of persons. I agree that it is up to the church to determine if one meets the criteria of a certain class, weather it be Arminian, Pelagian, denier of the Trinity etc. etc. But I do believe that we are safe to say that a particular class of people is not welcome to the table, not by individual judgment, but by ruling of the courts of the Church.
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