A Twisted Crown of Thorns ®

Reformed. Christianity. Evangelism. Modern Culture.

We All Start Arminian -Don’t We?

John Pedersen writes a deeply passionate plea outlining his concerns and fears during his transition from Arminianism to Reformed theology.

“If Arminianism is so evil, why did many Reformed believers start their Christian lives as Arminians, as Christians who believed in “free will”? I myself was a believer in “free will” Arminianism for years, and it was a long and painful journey for me to finally see the biblical basis for the doctrines of grace.”

“All those years, I read my Bible, prayed, and sought the salvation of my friends and loved ones, just as I do now. My transition to Calvinism was somewhat reluctant, but the inevitable result of Christian maturity, good Reformed books, and the patience and godly example of Reformed believers who did not castigate me for my free will beliefs but encouraged me to see the greater richness and deep biblical truths of Reformed doctrine.”

“I was loved into the Reformed Faith; not condemned into it. People like you, instead of showing compassionate acceptance to those with deficient doctrinal understanding, attack them as enemies of Christ and alienate them, proving that you care more for artificially rigid doctrinal precision than for people.

Answer: A principle of all arguments in defense of the false gospel is that those who defend Arminianism show essential belief in what they defend.

First, because many “Reformed” believers began their Christian lives as believers in the “free will understanding” of salvation as taught by Arminianism, it can not be distinguished from the “Reformed Faith” as something evil, but as a less consistent and immature expression of the faith which is most biblically expressed in Reformed theology.

Second, this view teaches that love and tolerance are the key elements in ministry to those with ” Arminian” assumptions. The idea is that people are more apt to listen to you and even agree with you if you treat them with acceptance and love, affirming them where they are, so to speak.

Third, this view sees those who regard Arminianism and the Reformed faith as two different gospels as fixated on artificially rigid doctrinal hair-splitting which sacrifices the lives of people on the altar of being right, or values winning an argument about “truth” over showing love.

Each point is a different way of granting legitimacy to Arminianism as a valid expression of the Christian faith, and a different way of saying that “Arminian” believers are true Christians who mean well and are a little confused.

Everything in the argument depends on the sacrosanct position that Arminians are true, biblical Christians, including the person formulating the argument. Challenge and expose that position as false, and the whole argument disappears.

The entire assumption of the false gospel of Arminianism is that of human sovereignty and divine dependence on the will of man for salvation and forgiveness. Otherwise, it would not be Arminianism. Insofar as it can be distinguished as Arminianism, what makes it distinctive is its premise of human sovereignty (“free will”) and inherent human righteousness (“foreseen faith”).

Whereas the Bible clearly teaches that Jesus Christ’s death on the cross was necessitated out of the fact that salvation could not be gained by human work or righteousness (Isaiah 59:15-20; Galatians 2:21; Titus 3:5), Arminianism actually grounds salvation ultimately in the work of man, asserting that God’s actions toward men are indiscriminate and that the difference between those who belong to God and those who do not is not found in God, who treats all men the same and desires equally that all men should come to him, but is found in man, and his sovereign free will.

In the face of the biblical statements about the horrible judgment that fell on Christ and the purpose of this work on the cross to secure the salvation of his elect people, such an assertion is consummate perversion, and gross evil.

By expressing the conviction that “free will Arminianism” and the “Reformed Faith” are two versions of the same thing, distinguished as a more or less biblically consistent rendition of the same belief, the transition from Arminianism to

Calvinism is seen by this argument as a transition from one seat to another on the same bus.

For the person making the transition this way, it is indeed a change from one seat to another on the same bus. The seat may read “the Reformed Faith”, but the issue is not the seat at all, but the bus. If you sit in the ” Reformed Faith” seat on an Arminian bus, you are just riding more comfortably in the same direction, and upheld by the same superstructure, and powered by the same engine, as all the “Free will” seats.

I say this to such a person: No wonder you get along with all the other “free will” passengers so well. You are one of them. You may have a form of godliness, but you deny the power of godliness (II Timothy 3:5).

This leads to the final point. If the “Arminian” bus is headed for a fatal precipice, and I can see it as one who is “Reformed”, am I showing love to the people on the bus by smiling and waving them along? Or should I not warn them of their grave danger, insisting that they continue only at the peril of their souls? If they do not agree with me that their course is indeed a perilous one, how could they do other than see my earnest warnings as condemning, harsh, and un-loving?

They may be headed for a picnic on their nice bus, and I want to spoil their picnic. I can see how if I came on their bus to warn them with the urgency warranted by their peril and they did not believe me, they would want to throw me off the bus as a disruptive, crazy, kook who is trying to sow discord among the passengers on the bus and create unnecessary speculation as to their destination.

I am compelled to warn those under the evil spell of the Arminian lie of their grave danger. This is the only loving thing to do for the sake of the elect who need to be rescued from the darkness of religious wickedness, and it is the only thing I can do for the sake of God and his purposes in hardening those who refuse to accept the warning.

From Are You Sure You’re still Not An Arminian by John Pedersen.

10 responses to “We All Start Arminian -Don’t We?

  1. malcolm turner June 19, 2011 at 19:53

    This is an excellent article. Thankyou so much. I wish more people had te courage to speak out against this wicked heresy.

  2. thereformedtraveler June 19, 2011 at 20:50

    “only loving thing to do for the sake of the elect….for the sake of God and his purposes in hardening those who refuse to accept the warning.”
    The picnic reminds me of the lines in John Wayne’s, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon:
    Capt. Nathan Brittles asks, “Where are you going, Mr. Penel? Lt. Pennel answers, “Picnic-ing, Sir. Brittles comes back at him, “Picnic-ing?” (that is to say, out with the Indians???!) Yes, VERY excellent article! Thanks so much Michael.

  3. phillip james munroe III June 19, 2011 at 23:36

    So no Arminian is a true Christian?

    • Michael Acidri June 20, 2011 at 03:44

      Phillip, being Arminian doesnt mean you are less of a Christian.

      • phillip james munroe III June 20, 2011 at 22:51

        But the article says

        “Or should I not warn them of their grave danger, insisting that they continue only at the peril of their souls?”

        Forgive, me if this doesn’t reflect your actual views but surely the writer is suggesting this?

      • Michael Acidri June 21, 2011 at 03:47

        Th bible does admonish christians to hold on to what it right and true and shun anything that is not consistent with the word of God. In which case if a christian has a false view or an aberrant doctrine, he ought to be admonished to abandon his false views and hold fast to what is right. A true believer will always yearn to learn what is true and God in his sovereignty will teach and guide him to sound doctrine. A good arminian is one who yearns to hold to sound biblical teaching and in so doing yearns to be like christ -and so is a good calvinist.

  4. Manfred June 20, 2011 at 01:25

    I think everyone is born again with an Arminian view, because all he can discern is with his eyes of flesh, as that’s what he used to using. And the eyes and flesh tell him he choose Christ! This is why it’s important for all believers to read and study the Scriptures – because without God telling us the work He did before He raised us from spiritual death, we would not know it. And remain thinking we chose God.

    But the Word of God says in myriad places that this is not so. Romans 10:14-17 is a favorite passage of mine, as it was this passage that I was given for my first preaching assignment.

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