Wednesday, 31 December 2008
The Ignorance of Calvinists & Arminians
I Found this today. I think it says alot:
(To the tune of Amazing Grace.)
Arminian “grace!” How strange the sound,
Salvation hinged on me.
I once was lost then turned around,
Was blind then chose to see.
What “grace” is it that calls for choice,
Made from some good within?
That part that wills to heed God’s voice,
Proved stronger than my sin.
Thru many ardent gospel pleas,
I sat with heart of stone.
But then some hidden good in me,
Propelled me toward my home.
When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Because of what we’ve done,
We’ve no less days to sing our praise,
Than when we first begun.
Right now I can envisage that most Cavinists are grinning, thinking "Too right! Stupid Arminians", whilst at the same time Arminians are shouting at the screen thinking, "Stupid Calvinists!" Let me explain for those who are confused.
The above seems to portray what most Calvinists see of Arminian Theology. However, Neither Arminius, Westley, nor I would ascribe to this. It is closer to Pelagian Theology, a works based system that was rightly deemed herasy. The places where Calvinism and Arminianism really differ are Limited Atonement and Irresistable Grace and. We both hold that we are depraved and that God has to call and choose us. We both hold that this Grace is undeserved and totally an act of God. Arminians hold that we have to respond to this call, an ability which is given of God, and that all men are given this ability to respond.
Now I'm not saying that these are irrelevant differences, far from it in fact, but what I am saying is that we both need to read and understand properly each others theology, and not hold some wishy-washy idea of what the other thinks which leads to division. This is a two-way process.
R. C. Sproul wrote:
"As a Calvinist I frequently hear criticisms of Calvinistic thought that I would heartily agree with if indeed they represented Calvinism. So, I am sure, the disciples of Arminius suffer the same fate and become equally frustrated."
(R. C. Sproul, Willing to Believe (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1997), 126. )
Wesley also wrote:
"To say, "This man is an Arminian," has the same effect on many hearers, as to say, "This is a mad dog." It puts them into a fright at once: They run away from him with all speed and diligence; and will hardly stop, unless it be to throw a stone at the dreadful and mischievous animal.
The more unintelligible the word is, the better it answers the purpose. Those on whom it is fixed know not what to do: Not understanding what it means, they cannot tell what defence to make, or how to clear themselves from the charge. And it is not easy to remove the prejudice which others have imbibed, who know no more of it, than that it is "something very bad," if not "all that is bad!""
(From the Thomas Jackson edition of The Works of John Wesley, 1872.)
Let us read then the works of Calvin and related works, let us read the works of Arminius and related works. I think both sides will be surpised with what the find. Let us serve God together, with the knowledge that we are saved by grace through faith alone, seeking to love one another and push each other in Love to a greater understanding of the Bible, becoming more like Jesus each day.
Till next time