Practical applications for the Arminian error.

Discussion in 'Calvinism & The Doctrines of Grace' started by raderag, Feb 13, 2006.

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  1. raderag

    raderag Puritan Board Sophomore

    I think I have read enough contention on whether or not the Arminian error is damnable heresy or not. The real question that we should be asking ourselves (we as in laymen) is how do we interact with those who hold this error (>90% of Christians probably hold this error to some degree)? I would like to hear from both sides.

    Here is an interested example; I just got back from a "farewell lunch" for someone that had been in the company for over 15 years. In fact, he is an elder at the previous Church I was a member of (dispensational). In my opinion, he is a very Godly man in how he conducts himself at work, his family, etc. I actually look to this man as a good example of a Christian, while I abhor some of what he believes.

    At the end of our lunch, which included mostly unbelievers, my friend gave a short Gospel presentation which had alot of metaphors about lifeboats, etc. At the core of the message was that Christ died for those sinners that would rest their trust on Him. While this was the essential message, there was error mixed with truth. He spoke of ability, free-will, and universal atonement. Of course he didn´t directly discuss these things, but they were implied in his theology. Not only that, he is leaving a technical job to go into the ministry (an admin position), so I doubt he is ready to reconsider leaving his theological paradigm.

    Shall I go rebuke my friend, and tell him he must repent of his heresy lest he burn in hell fire? I don´t intend to tell him that nor do I tend to offer him any criticism as he already knows what I believe and why I believe it. We just don´t agree on these issues, and we still consider each other brethren.

    If this friend were a Mormon, a Muslim, or even a Catholic, I believe I would tell him that he must convert, but I don´t see how I can tell someone who obviously believes in the cardinal doctrines of the faith, and believes that he is saved by grace through faith alone that he must turn from his evil heresy.

    The reason I brought this story out is that our beliefs have very real consequences about how we act around other believers and how unbelievers see us. Also, this is an absolutely true story.

    On a side note:
    I notice that many of those that would hold to this view that Arminians are damned (true only of course) are post-millennial (I´m not). What are the practical ramifications of that? If that is true, it would seem as if God´s kingdom has shrunk rather than grown.

    [Edited on 2-13-2006 by raderag]
  2. Magma2

    Magma2 Puritan Board Sophomore

    Well, if you really believe your friend is in error, then of course you should rebuke him. What kind of friend are you anyway that you do not seek to correct him in love? It seems to me that perhaps the problem lies more with you then with your friend. You obviously don´t think his caricature of the gospel is serious enough to risk your friendship over. Also, I don´t think the conversation has to go; "œrepent or burn in hell, by the way I really enjoyed working with you." Should the opportunity present itself by God´s providence and you can talk to him about spiritual matters, then if you two really are brethren you can raise your concerns in a manner that doesn´t have to be akin to a frying pan over they head.

    Again, you clearly don´t think the errors of Arminianism are at all serious or that they undermine the "œcardinal doctrines of the faith." I just have wonder if you would be so cavalier with your friend if he was having an affair with his secretary? Maybe you think adultery from his wife is a more serious sin than adultery from the truth? For what it's worth I think Dr. McMahon´s piece, "œThe "œgod" of Arminianism is Not Worshippable" is excellent and something you should consider asking your friend to read. It reminded me of a piece by G. A. Chan ( on the five points which concluded:

    in my opinion if we take the cardinal doctrines of the gospel seriously then we should not let those we consider even our brothers to distort or twist the truth.

    Hope that helps.
  3. raderag

    raderag Puritan Board Sophomore

    The repent or burn in hell was hyperbole, but that is essentially the message some would like to convey. Perhaps that is not what you think, but that is really the central question here. Otherwise, you are assuming way too much here. In fact, I have discussed the issues of the doctrines of Grace with my friend very extensively. It was his answers that led me out of that denomination/movement. He knows that I consider his view to be serious error, but he doesn´t agree. The point is, how do I handle this now? He is either to be treated like a Brother or someone on the outside. I believe he is my brother. He is not under any ecclesiastical discipline as he was never in a reformed Church to begin with.

    Ok, this conversation is done. Your answers were just too silly. Have a nice day. ;)

    [Edited on 2-13-2006 by raderag]
  4. Civbert

    Civbert Puritan Board Junior

    Not sure if you are being serious or not. The wink indicates you are joking, but I don't see the humor. I hope you are kidding just the same.
  5. raderag

    raderag Puritan Board Sophomore

    I am really done with that conversation. The answers were very silly and don't deserve a reply. There were several accusations directed at me, and I will not engage is such a discussion.

    [Edited on 2-13-2006 by raderag]
  6. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritan Board Doctor

    Brett -

    I'd encourage you to praise God that people heard of their need to repent and trust in Christ alone for their salvation, that they will be damned if they don't and given eternal life if they do.

    I'd encourage you to praise God that your friend was bold - and concerned - enough to actually present the Gospel in such a situation.

    As for the error in his message: Remember that no presentation is perfect. Remember that the Body of Christ is broader than the Reformed camp.

    If you have the opportunity and an established relationship, I'd encourage you to maybe consider taking him under your wing to explain a more correct theology to him.

    Other than that, I'd let it slide. Just thank God that these people heard of their need and God's provision... it may be the only time they ever hear. :2cents:
  7. raderag

    raderag Puritan Board Sophomore

    Thank you Ben. I don't know if I would have been able to do what he did in a professional setting. The fact that he testifies of Christ and His work is a strong indicator to me.

    Unfortunatly, he doesn't want to talk about theology. :(

    Funny, he is very high Church when it comes to the role that Pastors should take in deciding which doctrines are taught.

    [Edited on 2-13-2006 by raderag]

    [Edited on 2-13-2006 by raderag]
  8. Magma2

    Magma2 Puritan Board Sophomore

    Suit yourself, but why are my answers silly? You said you have no intention of correcting your friend even though you consider him to be in error. How else am I to understand you? It´s clear you don´t think his Arminianism is serious enough, whereas it seems to me the problem is your own Calvinism is the problem. You say you think this man is your brother, but you don´t know that, instead you are willing to sacrifice the purity and truth of the gospel. Maybe this conversion should be done, but not for the reasons you suggest.
  9. raderag

    raderag Puritan Board Sophomore

    Go back and reread your post. Your answers are silly because they take a real life situation and turn it into mere accusations of my character. Do you think ad-hominem arguments are adequate, especially considering the nature of this post?

    I will be glad to interact with you, but first you need to remove your ad-hominem rant. Actually, you have repeated this ad-hominem here.
  10. turmeric

    turmeric Megerator

    I'm sure you are not a perfectionist, since that would be unorthodx and we would have to correct you; but your post has not only an all-or-nothing tone that is out of proportion to what you are responding to in my opinion, but you seem to be speaking to motive which you can't judge. To be blunt, your posts seem uncharitable, and not just in Bret's opinion. Unless the tone changes, I'm not saying anything further to you either. It's been said, if the Spirit doesn't bring you to repent, I certainly can't. My job has been done.
  11. Magma2

    Magma2 Puritan Board Sophomore

    While it´s certainly true that the Body of Christ is broader than the Reformed camp, it seems to me the real problem is that many have forgotten, including more than a few pastors, that the truth is not manifold, but one. No wonder so-called Evangelicalism, or, better, what´s left of it, is so flaccid and anemic. But, I guess I´ll let it slide.
  12. raderag

    raderag Puritan Board Sophomore

    Perhaps that is not what I believe? You haven't bothered to explore that, so you wouldn't know. You just assume I am milquetoast. Like I said, I encourage you to reread what you wrote. It is inherently illogical and not suitable for decent discourse.
  13. Magma2

    Magma2 Puritan Board Sophomore

    First, strictly speaking ad-hominem arguments are not necessarily fallacious, whereas abusive ad-hominem ones are. I did not engage in either, but merely shared my own thoughts and observation which is what you requested after all. Yes, I am a bit critical of how you handled the situation, but I´m not saying I might not have handle it the same way. If so, shame on me. My point is that too many professing Calvinists act like Arminians are their retarded little brothers and this is arrogance and pride. Arminianism is a false gospel. It is a system as hostile to the truth as is Romanism and far more insidious.
  14. raderag

    raderag Puritan Board Sophomore

    Let's see....

    I am cavalier and I'm willing to sacrifice the purity of the Gospel?

    That isn't ad-hominem, but rather Gospel truth, huh?

    I don't think they are my retarded little brothers, that is actually the argument from your side (go read the thread on that article). That is the exact thing I have been arguing against. I kept reading that Arminianism is damnable, but there aren't really any Arminians. The problem is that most don't want to go down the logical conclusions of their theology. The fact that you seem to be willing to do so is at least consistent, but in this case it gives me great concern for the Body.
  15. Magma2

    Magma2 Puritan Board Sophomore

    No, it wasn´t an ad-hominem argument in the slightest. It´s clear you took offense to what I said, but that´s a different issue. As for being cavalier, etc., yes, I think so. You said:

    You said this friend of yours "œspoke of ability, free-will, and universal atonement" therefore it doesn´t seem to follow that he believes he is saved by grace through faith alone, certainly not saved by grace alone, yet if he were a Catholic, Mormon or a Muslim you would be right there correcting him telling him he must convert. Yes, to me that seems a bit cavalier. You evidently don´t consider things like ability, free-will, and universal atonement sinful departures from the truth of the gospel message. in my opinion the inclusion of these false doctrines, even by implication, distort the truth and presents another gospel, certainly not the gospel that is found in Scripture, yet such things don´t seem to cause you or Ben any offense at all. That´s fine, I´m quite sure you both are in the majority anyway. Safety in numbers and all that.

    Well, from what you described, it sounds to me like your friend fits the bill, but that doesn´t seem to give you any heart-burn. Now, it may be in spite of the nonsense he boldly proclaimed, and in spite of the implications of his belief in his own ability, free will and universalism, he might yet, in spite of his Arminianism, still hold to the truth of justification by mere belief alone in the finished work of Christ alone and be saved. I have no way to tell and it´s certainly not implied by anything you´ve described. However, that is neither my point or my concern. Look, if someone were to get up and describe my wife in ways that were patently inaccurate and untrue, I would have no problem correcting him, but it seems that one can present a distorted picture of Jesus Christ equally as false and we have pastors and fellow pew-ons lining up to applaud such a man for being bold and presenting the gospel. From what you described that was no gospel and perhaps that´s where we differ.
  16. raderag

    raderag Puritan Board Sophomore

    Am I necessarily cavalier or do I just not subscribe to the same notion of TULIP being the gospel? I don't mind you challenging me, but I don't like accusations.

    Do you not think you are being defensive with your safety in numbers jab? You are being extremely hostile towards me without any cause at all.

    Regardless, how does the peripheral view of believing in free will or universal atonement detract from the Gospel of Christ and Him crucified? How is preaching Christ crucified a different Gospel? That is what I am unclear on. On the other hand, if you are saying that TULIP is actually the Gospel, I think you may be wrong. Can you show me in scripture where Paul taught that the doctrine of election was the Gospel message?

    Are you saying that TULIP is a Christological issue? Are you really saying that? If TULIP or the rejection of it is a Christological issue, you need to explain that to me.
  17. TimeRedeemer

    TimeRedeemer Puritan Board Freshman

    Since magma2 is brand new on this board I'm willing to take what he writes and subtract the way he says it until he has about 1000 posts (I mean, just as a fellow board member). I write strongly myself, and have had to apologise for intemperate rhetoric (not cursing or anything) about four or five times, just to turn the volume down if anything.
  18. TimeRedeemer

    TimeRedeemer Puritan Board Freshman

    What I mean is many here will admire your zeal, but if a person takes acception to how you've said something there's an art to saying things that doesn't cause needless friction while at the same time doesn't compromise what you mean and intend to say. (I'm not lecturing anybody, just passing on things I've picked up.)
  19. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    People who think that the "truth is the truth" and never has to be seasoned with grace are either not married or immature or both. When I say immature it is not meant to be pejorative. I mean that with good experience comes wisdom, restraint, and an ability to express oneself and have insight into people's lives. Those who give flippant answers to relationship issues express an immaturity of the faith that they need to work on if they ever aspire to be an Elder in Christ's Church.

    OK, to the point at hand...

    I would caution you, Brett, in assuming that your Arminian friend has it "together" as much as you suspect. If there is one thing that leadership has taught me over the years is that people can live lives of apparent external happiness or piety while there is a literal disaster area within their spirit and their home.

    You ask about the "practical applications for the Arminian error." One of them is that your friend, who externally seems very pious and happy and devoted, may struggle mightily with doubt. I read a statistic that about 50% of missionaries surveyed for a broadly evangelical ministry were in the mission field out of some sense of guilt. They were desirous to show their worth. I'm not one to throw out the baby with the bath water and, insofar as Christ's name is proclaimed I rejoice, but severe doubt and restlessness is very common among Christians who are in Arminian Churches.

    Notice the appetite that they have for talismans or "How to" books. Whether it is WWJD bracelets or The Prayer of Jabez, they are always trying to figure out why they aren't being blessed. The Promise Driven Life and 40 Days of Purpose is but the latest method to fill the restlessness of spirit that they feel. Why doesn't Promise Keepers pack stadiums and fill the Mall in D.C. anymore? Because it got tired and people needed something new. People will still be reading the Promise Driven Life in a few years but something else will have taken its place with the same promise of fixing the feeling that most Evangelicals feel today.

    Anyone who knows me knows that I'm not saying it to be smug. I worship among them. I counsel some of them. As a sort of a "magistrate" I have had detailed information into the lives of many of them.

    That Christ is proclaimed I always rejoice but that Arminian doctrines mute the message and rob people of the ability to wonder at the Grace of their salvation so that they don't know how to cry: Abba! Father is terrible. That Arminian doctrines have robbed them of the sense of God's majesty and most Churches exchange wonder of a Holy God preached from the Word for gnostic experiences in repetitious and banal "praise songs" is reprehensible. That Arminian doctrines have moved so much preaching into practical advice or piety that they no longer sense a need to Protest Rome makes me weep.

    Again, when Christ's name is proclaimed I rejoice, but when the message reveals to me predictable patterns of decay it is lamentable to see.

    Personally I say what I can where I can within the bounds of the friendship or relationship. I've told my family that the Church they worship in is a false one (but I think they began to figure that out when I wasn't Roman Catholic anymore). They've heard it and I season certain discussions with good theology and contradict bad stuff politely but, in the end, I'm not going to break contact with them. It's the same thing with former close friends who are in bad Churches. They know where I stand on certain things. I say them politely but it's not my job to damn them.

    Work relationships that are merely casual friendships (all my close friendships are in the Church) are a bit different. I season my speech with faith at times but it is not always appropriate, in all circumstances, to offer unsolicited theological critique. In the middle of a staff meeting I can't interrupt the Chaplain and tell her I don't believe the Scriptures allow the ordination of women for instance. I'm also in a position of authority where it is inappropriate to use my influence to require people to listen to me tell them about the Gospel. I don't have any set rules but let Prudence be my guide.

    If your friend is truly close then ask him if you could sit down and talk about his faith with him. I think a good point to draw out would be self-doubt as I spoke of above. I'd be surprised if he was not struggling with some secret sin that, combined with his doctrine, would be causing him to wrestle mightily with assurance. He may even be joining the ministry convinced that, if he takes that leap of faith, that it will be the thing he needs to give him purpose and fill that restlessness in his heart. Don't bog him down with issues of election and reprobation. Focus on our utter sinfulness and inability and show him that God saved him in spite of Himself.

    Express to him the wonder of Galatians 3 and 4 that causes Paul to exclaim "Abba! Father!". That's getting good theology in the bloodstream. All the other doctrinal stuff is important but isn't the immediate issue. Minister to the Arminian where they need it - preach Peace to him.

    [Edited on 2-14-2006 by SemperFideles]
  20. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritan Board Doctor

    You are right: there is one truth. The one truth of the Gospel is that we are dead in our sins and we must repent and confess faith in Christ alone for our salvation. Apparently, that truth was proclaimed!

    Allow me to press you a little: you grant that the Body of Christ is broader than the Reformed camp... then how can you deny the validity of the Gospel message preached by those who are not Reformed? :detective:

    [Edited on 2-14-2006 by SolaScriptura]
  21. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritan Board Doctor

    I never said that. Just because I am able to look at the larger picture doesn't mean that hearing an evangelical (because it was most likely not a classical Arminian) presentation of the gospel doesn't irk my Reformed understandings.
  22. Magma2

    Magma2 Puritan Board Sophomore

    Jab? It was just a point of fact. in my opinion that your position and Ben´s represent the vast majority of those in most P&R churches which find nothing particularly offensive about the lies offered up in the name of Christ by ersatz-Evangelicals. For what it's worth I tend to think most P&R churches are in large measure Arminian and share a very similar and incoherent view of salvation and the cross work of Christ.

    The belief in free will implies that salvation is not of the Lord and universal atonement implies that Jesus failed to atone for the sins of those He presumably died for. In both scenarios God´s plan of salvation is portrayed as ineffectual and God impotent and pleading.

    Well, the Arminian has a different message, doesn't he? :)

    No kidding. I told you I was in the minority, but in good company I think.
    "Calvinism IS the Gospel, and nothing else." (C. H. Spurgeon, Autobiography, Vol. I: The Early Years)

    I don´t recall saying that Paul taught that the doctrine of election is the Gospel message? Care to show me where I said this? Of course election is hardly the peripheral doctrine as you make it out to be. Eph 2:8-10; "œFor by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." Seems to me the Arminian gospel gives men plenty to boast in.

    [Edited on 2-14-2006 by Magma2]
  23. Magma2

    Magma2 Puritan Board Sophomore

    You didn´t read very closely. Brett said at the core of his friend´s the message was that Christ died for those sinners who would, through their own innate ability and free will, rest their trust on Him. Maybe we just have a different understanding of what it means to be dead in trespass and sin, but being dead in our sins doesn´t seem to be a necessary component of his friend´s gospel. Also, I don´t want to pick on his friend either, I spent many years wandering the wasteland of what passes for Evangelicalism. I guess I was Dr. McMahon´s class three Arminian:

    I tell you it was pretty unsettling when, by God´s grace, I finally renounced the lies I had been taught for years and God brought me to my senses only to have a bunch of P&R types basically tell me I had it just about right all along.

    I would refer you again to the G. A. Chan quote I posted above.
  24. ReformedWretch

    ReformedWretch Puritan Board Doctor


    So many accuse reformed believers of arrogance because they claim to be of the "elect" yet it is the Arminian belief (or a shade of it, what ever...) tahat is truely arrogant as I once was.

    I CHOSE Christ!!!!

    Now allow me to show you why you must choose Christ!!

    Just open your eyes and make the decision that is right in front of you!

    Jesus stands with His arms open wide to all of you and all you have to do is allow Him to take hold of you!

    Stop saying no to God!


    Can you not see the arrogance there? Can you not hear the man centeredness of that belief? Yes, I was ignornace at the time, I did this in total innosence believing I was taking on the great comission.

    Was I saved? I believe I was. Was I following the true gospel..I think it's obvious that I was not. The results of my ministry reflected that I was not as all I saw was seen sewn amongst the thorns. It was frustration over that, that began to open my eyes to the truth.

    Now, if one who believes as I did continues along his way never hearing or understanding the DoG, or at the very least total depravity then I believe they are saved. However, I have to honestly doubt where one stands with God when taught and shown the truth of total depravity and our lack of involvemnet in our salvation and not only rejects it, but stands up against and speaks out against it passionately.

    How can one insist in the face of bold gospel truth that they had ANYTHING to do with thier salvation? How can they not only not see it, but when shown it, reject it and preach against it as sin?

    How can we say these people are "saved" when they attribute their salvation to their ability and action?
  25. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritan Board Doctor

    That is not what Brett wrote... Perhaps you need to read more closely.

    [Edited on 2-14-2006 by SolaScriptura]
  26. raderag

    raderag Puritan Board Sophomore

    You are correct Ben. My friend rightly realized that Christ atoned for those that would trust in Him. Sounds like Gospel to me.

    [Edited on 2-14-2006 by SolaScriptura] [/quote]

    [Edited on 2-14-2006 by raderag]
  27. raderag

    raderag Puritan Board Sophomore

    So, I am an Arminian?

    Brother Sean, you are wrong about me.
    How so, Sean?

    Spurgeon is definitly not scripture (he believed the Baptist trail blood myth), but if you read him in context he is not saying what you are saying. Spurgeon considered Arminians his Brothers.
    TULIP is essentially about the election. So are you conceding the debate then?

    [Edited on 2-14-2006 by raderag]
  28. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritan Board Doctor

    You find arrogance in any theological tradition. Some of the folks here are among the most arrogant I've ever encountered: at least as venemous towards Arminians as anything I've ever heard from Arminians regarding Calvinists.

    We must! You can't be saved without doing so!

    This sounds like the same concerned attempt to convince that motivated Paul in Acts 28:23!

    Again, we must make a decision! God doesn't save us against our will!

    Absolutely! just like Jesus longed to save all the "children" of Jerusalem!

    Amen! Sinners must stop "kicking against the goads!" As Stephen tells the Sanhedrin, they're always resisting the Holy Spirit! They must stop!

    No I don't. There is very little wrong with the propositions themselves. In fact, if an appeal to believe is lacking from a Gospel presentation then evangelism has not occurred.
    What? Do you seriously think that God saves us against our will? This leads to the Arminian claim that God "rapes the will!" These propositions are all true because of what actually happens: God gives us new hearts to believe, but we must engage our wills in response. (In fact, the only evidence that we have been given new hearts is that we choose to respond!)

    Then I believe you are misguided. You were believing the true gospel, otherwise you weren't saved. The problem is that you were minimizing God's glory by not fully understanding the the power to believe comes from him.

    I'm glad you became convinced of Calvinism, and to that end "whatever" started to convince you is fine... but just because you saw little fruit doesn't disprove the system... heck, most Calvinists see far less evangelistic fruit than Arminians... because we're so busy navel gazing that we fail to actaully preach the gospel to sinners!

    A word about this: this is not what an Arminian of either the classic or modern evangelical variety would say. This is simply your Reformed interpretation of what they say. If you show me an "Arminian" who stands up and says, "I saved myself!" Then I'll show you someone who has abandoned historic Arminianism or modern evangelicalism. Quit lumping these together!
    Despite all our protests about what their logic actually implies, true evangelical Arminians will always say that God saved them not by anything they did. They always give God the credit. They don't see the exercising of faith as being a "work." They see it as being their response to God's gracious offer of salvation, which came first.

    [Edited on 2-14-2006 by SolaScriptura]
  29. ReformedWretch

    ReformedWretch Puritan Board Doctor

    My point has been it's what I said, and it's what everyone I attended church with still says.

    Many here are going on and on about what they believe others feel or believe. I am telling you what I personally believed and what those who still attened the churches I attended still believe. I am not speaking from opinion but experience.
  30. ReformedWretch

    ReformedWretch Puritan Board Doctor

    How do we chose Him? Why do we chose Him? Is the answer to that question important? Why or why not?


    Yet see what Paul also said in the same passage!

    26"'Go to this people, and say,
    You will indeed hear but never understand,
    and you will indeed see but never perceive.
    27For this people's heart has grown dull,
    and with their ears they can barely hear,
    and their eyes they have closed;
    lest they should see with their eyes
    and hear with their ears
    and understand with their heart
    and turn, and I would heal them.'

    How do we obtain the desire or will to seek "salvation"? Does it just come to us of our own natural will, or does God "do something"?

    But what? Human will trumped God's will? He wanted something He couldn't have?

    Yes Paul "kicked against the goads" but what was it that caused him to stop? Was it not a direct revelation from Christ Himself? Would Paul have willfully stopped his actions and became a Christian?

    Who wills them self to be saved?

    Who has been given by God a new heart yet still resists Him? You answered that youself! We choose to respond because what God has given us. We did nothing but what we could do! God is the author of the ENTIRE process.

    I was taking credit for it.

    I used to see much fruit if you see fruit as I used to see it. I lead many in the "sinners prayer". The Gospel accounts seem to show us that Christ saw little conversions, and on a few ocasions went away kind of sad because of it. I believe your charge against Calvinists is false. We preach the gospel, the TRUE gospel and as such many are turned away like the rich young ruler.
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