Sunday, February 13, 2011

Arminius & the Doctrines of Grace

The impression that one might get of the Calvinist's "Doctrines of Grace" is that it is graceful, or has the appearance of being kind. The problem is that it is really the Doctrines of "Limited" Grace, or worse yet, something that Jacob Arminius had described:

Jacob Arminius stated: "It represents God as decreeing something for a particular end [or purpose] which neither is nor can be good...", in that "...God wishes to subject his creature to misery..." which is "...repugnant to the Goodness of God...", such that "...he wills the greatest evil to his creatures, and that from all eternity he has preordained that evil for them, or predetermined to impart it to them, even before he resolved to bestow upon them any portion of good...", which in other words, " was preordained that man should be formed vicious and should commit sin, that is, that he should neither know God, love, worship, nor serve him...." (Arminius Speaks, pp.40-42)

(This will tie in nicely to the next Blog series on "Why I am NOT a Calvinist," in which I will cite dozens of reasons and their corresponding explanations, and also what I feel would make the Calvinist's own list as to why they are not Arminians, and my corresponding thoughts.)

Most Calvinists that I know, speak of coming into a belief in the "Doctrines of Grace" as something which they entered "kicking and screaming." (I do not care for that title since it implies a monopoly on grace. Calvinists excel at marketing. Calvinists own the term "Reformed" as well. They also own Sovereignty, Providence, Predestination, ect.) That bothers me because Arminians teach all those things as well, though from a different perspective, which Arminians feel is a more biblical perspective, though Calvinists disagree, but the point is that although many have BECOME Calvinists kicking and screaming, Arminius instead had LEFT Calvinism kicking and screaming. Arminius spoke highly of John Calvin and his Institutes, although I don't think that he had the same opinion of other Calvinists of his day, especially of the mindset of Beza. But the point is that the Calvinist concept of God predeterming evil, appears to have been a powerful motivation for Jacob Arminius to abandon his Calvinism, and of course I believe that is a good thing, but what is the one major concern whenever someone leaves one particular theology? Holdover Theology. You see this sometimes when a person leaves the Jehovah's Witnesses, and has a skewed understanding of the divine nature of Christ. So as I read and study Arminius' writings in Arminius Speaks, the one thing that I will be cautious to look for, is to beware of theological baggage or holdover theology.


Luke said...

"but what is the one major concern whenever someone leaves one particular theology? Holdover Theology."

Nicely stated!

Richard Coords said...

Hey Pastor Luke,

That was the issue with Raymond Franz, formerly of the Watchtower Society's 12 member, elite inner circle. Upon defection, due to WTS moral abuses and his crisis of conscience, he still retained core WTS teachings on the deity of Christ and other matters. He acknowledged that some might accuse him of "holdover theology," but he felt that the WTS teaching was still correct, and tried citing other non-WTS Christians in support. So that's really what my concern over Arminius was, regarding his own defection.

Here is a sample quote:

"But, because 'known unto our God are all his works from the beginning of the world' (Acts 15:18), and as God does nothing in time which He has not decreed from all eternity to do, this vocation is likewise instituted and administered according to God's eternal decree. So that what man soever is called in time, was from all eternity predestinated to be called, and to be called in that state, time, place, mode, and with ath efficacy, in and with which he was predestinated. Otherwise, the execution will vary from the decree; which charge of mutability and change cannot be preferred against God without producing mischievous effects (Eph 3:5, 6, 9-11; Jas 1:17, 18; 2 Tim 1:9)." (Arminius Speaks, p.27)

Luke said...

This has really got me to thinking not only in regards to Cal/Arm debates and especially the influence of Augustine, but my own "holdover" from where I've been. I'm thinking that we are the sum total of all that we've met, in whatever form or fashion that might would be. But it is helpful to be reminded that from whence we've come we are still impacted.

In a positive light, this leads me all the more to seek to know Christ and Him crucified and resurrected and not the teachings of men.

Thanks for taking the time to address this subject.