The Worthless Distinction Between Arminianism and semi-Pelagianism

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Confessor

Puritan Board Senior
Apparently Arminians, in their zeal to separate themselves from an obviously heretical movement, need to establish that they are not semi-Pelagian.

Arminian Chronicles: What's the difference between all these historic groups?

The writer uses an analogy to explain the supposed difference. In semi-Pelagianism, man has fallen out of the boat, God calls to him, reaches out His hand, and if man grabs His hand God will pull him in. In Arminianism, man has fallen out and been knocked unconscious, God goes out of the boat, brings him to the surface of the water, and man becomes conscious; at this point, God starts to bring man to him and if man doesn't resist, then man gets back in the boat.

This distinction is absolutely worthless for two main reasons:

(1) The fact that man is "knocked unconscious" (an illustration for Total Depravity) is negligibly significant in Arminian theology, because according to them there's not a single person on earth who is actually like this. Everyone is the recipient of prevenient grace which grants everyone the free-willed choice to accept or reject the Gospel. There's no use in referring to natural men as totally depraved when one believes that there are no natural men on earth, i.e. that every single person has already been given grace to choose for him- or herself whether to accept more grace or not. Consequently, there's no point in saying that semi-Pelagians lack the initial "unconsciousness" in their theology, because they are, for all intents and purposes, identical. It'd be like someone trying to differ from a Pelagian by saying, "No, God first makes man conscious, and then man must entirely in his own power get back in the boat." Who cares? In either situation, semi-Pelagian or Arminian, you have man performing work and God performing work; each are "meeting each other halfway." The extra detail that God first made man conscious before man had to do work is useless.

But of course, Arminians will say they're not positively doing work, which leads us to our next point:

(2) In the Arminian analogy, man apparently is being pulled in by God, and only when he starts resisting does God "let go of him"; in other words, conversion is a passive process wherein man simply needs not to resist. There are two problems with this:
(a) Conversion is not passive. We are called to repent and believe, which are acts of the will (though not of free will :cool:), and therefore to say that we simply need not resist is nonsense. It goes against all experience and the Biblical mandate. What does it mean to "let God pull you in" anyway? Does one just sit in his pew and wait for some magic? [How interesting, by the way, that the ones offering works-based, man-glorifying religion are now falling prey to the same criticisms they try to apply to Reformed theology!]
(b) The fact that man, according to the Arminian illustration, is simply not to resist in order to be saved -- and that he is to do this of his free will -- still entails some duty that he must uphold in order to be saved. It still entails that he must follow some law of passive obedience by his own power in order to be saved. This is no different in principle from the semi-Pelagian who is, according to the writer of the analogies, upholding a law of active obedience to be saved. Passive obedience and active obedience are still works, and obtaining reward by them is still works-righteousness.

To reiterate (a) above: isn't it glorious to see how these non-Reformed theologies cave in on themselves? They realize they need to avoid works-righteousness, and in so doing they stress grace, grace, grace -- but in doing that, they are forced to concede that man is passive in something in which he is to be active. Only Reformed theology, with its doctrine that man is passive in regeneration and active in conversion, is able to surmount these difficulties. Praise Jesus!
 

Rogerant

Puritan Board Freshman
You seem to be suing the terms Pelagian and Semi-Pelagian interchangeably. Can you provide your understanding of the difference? :worms:
 

Confessor

Puritan Board Senior
You seem to be suing the terms Pelagian and Semi-Pelagian interchangeably. Can you provide your understanding of the difference? :worms:

I didn't use them interchangeably in the OP. I was trying to illustrate the uselessness of one distinction between Arminianism and semi-Pelagianism by applying the principle used in the boat analogy to a hypothetical distinction between a nonexistent theology (in which God make the man conscious and then the man gets in the boat all by himself) and Pelagianism (in which the man is already conscious and gets in the boat all by himself).

And for the record, take Pelagianism to mean that man does all the work in salvation and semi-Pelagianism that God and man split up the work.
 
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