Wednesday, January 04, 2012

On Responding to Arminians

I was recently directed to a blog post attempting to refute one of my articles on Arminianism, which I will interact in another post. I was asked if I would interact with that post and comment on it, especially since I was once a former Arminian.

To this, I have mixed feelings. True, I was a former Arminian, but I was an Arminian in the same way as human beings are born Pelagians. The default position of Christians who are truly converted is Arminianism, for the sinful nature within them means that they will sub-consciously attempt to be as Pelagian as possible even after conversion.

There is thus a difference between mere Arminians who do not know better, and devoted Arminians who knowingly, willfully and explicitly reject the Doctrine of Grace. Most Evangelicals are shallow Arminians and even Semi-Pelagians because they are untaught in the truths of Scripture, just like I once was. To them, instructing them in the truths of Scripture would be helpful. If they are truly teachable, they would slowly come to embrace the Doctrines of Grace, unless of course there are strong emotional barriers due to certain past experiences in their life which will make it hard for them to do so.

The issue that comes before me now is interacting with convinced Arminians. In this case, the Arminian in question is William Birch of the so-called "Society of Evangelical Arminians, whom I have mentioned in passing previously. I greatly hesitate to engage such people, not because I cannot do so, but I do not see the profit in doing so. The way James White engaged such people, which I think is the correct way, is through debates, which are not meant to convince the other party. Debates are meant to portray the different positions and get them to interact with each other, with the purpose of convincing those who are either undecided or on the peripheral of the movement. Seldom can one get to convince the hard core supporters on either side, and therefore I hesitate to interact directly with Birch.

With this caveat, I would respond to Birch on my blog, and we'll see how it goes, since I am busy as well.

11 comments:

sentimentsassuch said...

Daniel, if you are the author of this then I have something to say to you...

I haven’t read something this rude, disrespectful and insulting for a very long time. Do you think it is honourable to have this kind of arrogant and antagonistic attitude, looking down your nose at your fellow Christians as intellectually and spiritually inferior? This post is not only unloving, but it actually misrepresents Christ himself. With this attitude, you are a bad ambassador for Christ and I think you ought to be rebuked by all Christians as a divider and a mocker, because that's what you've et out to do; to mock and divide.

Shame on you.

PuritanReformed said...

@sentiment:

well, I haven't read such a rude, disrespectful and insulting comment for quite a long time too, from you.

You have not even proved that Arminians are fellow Christians, especially those that are virulently against Calvinism. You are the one who is misrepresenting Christ, who drove out the vendors in the temple courts with a whip and overturn their tables. You are not interested in warning people of their error and instead are more interested in saying "peace, peace" where there is no peace (Jer. 6:14).

Shame on you, hypocrite!

sentimentsassuch said...

@ PuritanReformed

Whatever, man. You could have chosen to have been humble and welcomed correction, but instead you have chosen to attack your rebuker. Don't you see how irrational that is?

To call Classical Arminianism heresy (such as is represented by Mr William Birch) is just neo-reformed, sub-calvinist fanaticism. NO respectable Calvinist leader--MacArthur, White, Sproul, Piper et. al.--believes that Arminianism is a heresy. No fair reading of the Arminians of history or of today will lead any rational Christian to such a sorry and absurd conclusion.

For example: What about JACOBUS ARMINIUS, who in his time was known as one of the most insightful, godly, prayerful and patient of men by those who knew him, such as when he single-handedly led the ministry of evangelism Amsterdam through the plague at the end of the 16th century, even exposing himself to the diseased to anoint them, pray with them and encourage them, even as the flesh fell of their bones and the boils kept them bed-bound? What about JOHN WESLEY,that wonderful man of God, whose evangelistic ministry of love and passion engaged in good works with godly fruits to spark the Great Awakening across Anglo-American realm? What about LEONARD RAVENHILL, who (though not necessarily labelled 'Arminian' was certainly not a Calvinist) remains a constant source of inspiration in the Church today? What about (evidently) non-Calvinist BILLY GRAEME, whose preaching sparked revival-fires across America and touched the hearts of the world? What about DR WILLIAM LANE CRAIG, a Wesleyan-Arminian who is known as one of the greatest philosophers and Christian apologist of the modern world?

And what about all the rest of the godly,peace-loving, truth-advocating and Christ-glorifying non-Calvinists and self-professed Arminians and Wesleyans who have always existed in the history of the reformed Church, who have brought honour to God through their love and through whom Christ has built His Church?

If the Bible teaching is true, and we know them by their fruits (1 Jn.; Matt. 7:15-20), then of course many Classical and Wesleyan Arminians are Christians. To say the opposite is the very height of bigotry which represents the greatest of ignorance.

PuritanReformed said...

@sentiment:

welcome correction on what exactly? I am not going to accept the historical revisionism you evidently believe in.

Of course, when you say "no respectable Calvinist leader," you are begging the question. You have it seems conveniently ommitted godly Calvinist leaders like John Owen and Gisbertus Voetius, not to mention the many other Reformed pastors like C Matthew McMahon and R Scott Clark. Selective citation of Calvinists is not honest.

On the subject of attacking my rebuker, I can see that you continue having the log in your eye. I'm not impressed by hypocrites who are rude, disrespectful and insulting in their attack of me as being "rude, disrespectful and insulting." You are not "rebuking" me. I see someone who does not evidence any knowledge of the subject coming in to lecture me with your "insights." Don't put yourself on the high horse as if you are the teacher and I am the student. You have evidenced no manners at all and no knowledge of the facts. More like empty vessels making the most noise.

I find it laughable that you claim William Birch is a "classical Arminian." That he is not. If you desire to believe his propaganda of there being only one classical and evangelical Arminianism, you are certainly welcome to chose your delusion. But the facts speak for themselves, and Birch's revisionism of the history of Arminianisms is wrong.

Jacobus Arminius was known for his piety, and so was Pelagius. So your point on his piety is moot. The Pharisees were outwardly very pious indeed, and Jesus rejected their false righteousness too. That Arminius though outwardly pious was a devious person can be seen in his refusal to submit to church authority but instead hide behind the secular authorities to evade examination of his views in a national synod.

As for John Wesley, he is an Evangelical Arminian, not a Classicla Arminian. Ravenhill is a modern evangelical who is an Arminian by default and not an Arminian by real study and deep conviction. Ditto Billy Graham although his incipient universalism is worrying. Lane Craig is a molinist, not even an Arminian. Of course, if you wish to argue that Molinism is part of this mythic creature called "Classical Evangelical Arminianism", please try.

I have already said that most modern "Arminians" are such by default not by conviction. They are not "classical Arminians" by any stretch. And there are no Arminians in Reformed churches, unless of course you want to call apostate denominations like the PCUSA and other "mainline" denominations "reformed."

So before you reveal more of your ignorance, please read up the relevant sources instead of parroting falsehood. Also, do read the blog post you are responding to, because you do not even seem to notice my differentiation between Arminians by choice and Arminians by default.

sentimentsassuch said...

Since your fanatical views of the Arminian being heretics is so obviously rubbish, let's talk about your accusations against those Arminians I presented.

WILLIAM BIRCH is a Classical and Evangelical Arminian. They are the same! 'Classical' refers to that very beginning of Arminianism proper with Jacobus Arminius and the 17th century Remonstrants. As a student of history at the University of Sydney I have read a lot of Arminian authors both classical, enlightenment and modern. Mr Birch is truly a classical Arminian. He actually came out of the High Calvinist tradition for this Classical Arminianism.

JACOBUS ARMINIUS(who was a REFORMED theologian, by the way) in his own writings CALLED for a national synod to settle the theological controversies and issues which surrounded himself and Franciscus Gomarus, his colleague, at Leyden University. In fact, in my own historical reading of Arminius' "Works" (and I have surveyed them thoroughly), I have found that Arminius was very eager to be obedient to the Dutch Catechism and Heidelberg Catechism, and he was very loyal to the Reformed Church. The many testimonies about the man himself from the written records of his contemporaries attest to his godly and devoted character; a man of the academy, the faith and the family; a godly man who truly loved Christ.

JOHN WESLEY is perhaps the best example of a man inspired by the doctrines of Jacobus Arminius. His evangelical Arminianism is hardly different to classical Arminianism. Nevertheless, Wesley was a godly, informed and devoted Christian (and Arminian) who does not deserve the labels you have put to all Arminians in your original post.

LEONARD RAVENHILL & BILLY GRAHAM are two examples of non-Calvinists who were extremely godly, devoted men. I despise your retort that they were simply misinformed. It proves that believing in Calvinism is not the height of spiritual maturity or necessity to be a servant of God.

WILLIAM LANE CRAIG is a Molinist--in regards to his views on providence and Middle Knowledge (which is simply an explanatory element to simple foreknowledge view)--and on literally everything regarding Arminian rejections of the last four "ULIP" letters of the TULIP, William Lane Craig explicity agrees with us (the Arminians). Having read many books by William Lane Craig, listened to countless debates and seeing a regular listener to the 'Reasonable Faith' Podcasts at his website myself, I know that Dr Craig self-identifies as Wesleyan, which he calls 'an Arminian tradition.' See for exampe the cross-examination period in the Hitchens debate. Hence he IS an Arminian--and a godly and influential Christian leader.

Therefore your first post is rubbish, since there DO exist godly Arminians, be they Wesleyan or Classical or even with a dash of middle knowledge!

So at the end of the day you are just factually mistaken. Your post and responses display terrible, overriding ignorance regarding both historical facts and persons, and therefore is a sorry excuse for a serious piece of writing.

PuritanReformed said...

@sentiment:

seriously, you have to provide citations. My article on Classical Arminianism has citations whereas all you have provided is mere allegations.

Again, you have to do more than merely assert that Birch is a "classical and evangelical Arminian." I do not accept your ipse dixit.

Jacobus Arminius asked for a national synod? Proof? Book and page number please! That Arminius came from a Reformed church is irrelevant. Marcion came from the early apostolic church and he was still a heretic.

You can depise my retort, but it does not make it wrong. You evidently do not want to even interact with the difference between being Arminian by conviction and Arminian by default. As for Graham, I see that you have not even interacted with his interview with Bob Schuller where he espouses some sort of universalism.

On Bill Craig, seriously if you accept any Tom, Dick and Harry that identifies himself or herself with the Arminian tradition, you have to accept the Open Theists too, plus the gays and lesbians bishops and other church leaders in the apostate United Methodist Church. Fact is, Molinism was not embraced by either the Classical Arminians of the 17th century or the Evangelical Arminians of the 18th century. You are of course welcomed to prove me wrong.

As it is, your entire comment is vacuous. Mere emotional venting does not an argument make. Until you show some evidence, you are merely another sorry product of the academy who thinks they know everything when they know nothing. Again, empty vessels make the most noise.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Puritan Reformed,

For the record, I excerpted your post in a comment at Justin Taylor's blog HERE recently, and I did not know that it would spark such hateful responses.

It's a learning experience.

I'm sorry if "Sentimentsassuch" has disturbed you with his comments if he came here because he saw my comment at JT's.

PuritanReformed said...

@TUAD:

it's fine, and I'm not disturbed. I enjoy the occasional verbal sparring and putting convinced Arminians in their place. Of course, it is always nice to pit one's views against another's to see whether one's views could withstand the scrutiny of the opposing side.

The interaction so far has shown that "sentimentassuch" is high on rhetoric and low on substance. I doubt he can produce the documentary evidence to back up any of his assertions.

sentimentsassuch said...

PuritanReformed:

Your ultimate argument is that I haven't given you citations. But, surely Puritan, if you believe that you can even speak on Arminianism then you would have read through important Arminian documents like "Declaration of Sentiments"? Or are you ignorant of the primary sources like most internet Calvinists, and simply interpreting Arminianism through reformed authors?

But, alright then, if you want a citations or few, why don't you read my fully documented 20,000 word historical exposition on historical Arminianism entitled "The Fallenness of Man, the Will and the Workings of Grace: An Exposition on Historical Arminian Theological Thought" at the Society of Evangelical Arminians? (http://evangelicalarminians.org/?q=burnett.the-fallenness-of-man-the-will-and-the-workings-of-grace-an-exposition-on-historical-Arminian-Theological-Thought). That will provide you with plenty of documentary material from primary source material and contemporary theology covering excerpts from 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st century Arminian writers.

If you want evidence of Jacobus Arminius' calling of a synod, please read Arminius "Declaration of Sentiments." However, I do believe I cited it in my 4000 word biography of his life here at my blog: http://sentimentsassuch.wordpress.com/2011/10/03/the-life-of-jacobus-arminius-d-d-1559-1609/

Your reply concerning Bill Craig is misinformed trash. No, Open Theists and liberals are not Classical or Wesleyan Arminians, and history attests to that fact.

Did you know, Puritan, that God will judge lies and false witness,both intentional and unintentional? You need to be more careful in your approach to this entire debate, and research what you talk about. I see no evidence of the fact as of yet.

PuritanReformed said...

@sentiment:

Well, I will go through your documents slowly. I'm sure it will be interesting.

As for the case of Bill Craig, you did not answer my question. Upon what basis do you regard him as an Arminian and exclude open theists and liberals who call themselves Arminians? I do recall Dr. Roger Olson remarking in his book Arminian theology: Myths and Realities that he is fine with Open Theism although he does not embrace it himself.

Of course God will judge lies. Armnianism is a lie demeaning God and His character and will. Birch's repudiation of Conrad Vorstius as being a case study for the Remonstrants is also a lie. Let's see if you are honest on this one thing: Would you admit that Vorstius was considered an Arminian before his Socinian leanings became known?

PuritanReformed said...

Ah... I've just re-read Arminius' Declaration of Sentiments. Arminius did refuse a synod ("conference"), but he agreed to an Erastian style synod. Unfortunately, that is not a true synod. Nice nuance you have alerted me to, by the way.