Arminianism: A Different Gospel? So Still Claim Calvinists

A Calvinist named Stephen Anderson comments: "Since Calvinism / Augustinianism / Jesus / Paul make salvation the sovereign work of God alone, and Aminianism / Semi-Pelagianism / Pelagiamism make the unregenerate sinner determinative in salvation; then we are indeed talking about two different gospels." How convenient that this Calvinist assumes that Jesus and St Paul teach Calvinism. This is typical of the deceptive naïve realist approach to the interpretation of Scripture among Calvinists: assume one's a priori as a "biblical" lens through which all interpretation proper should be perpetuated and then claim one's theological conclusions as the teachings of the prophets, apostles, and Christ Himself. This approach is actually a blight and a reproach on Calvinism.

By "gospel," this Calvinist and most Calvinists refer to the Calvinistic "plan of salvation," which is, allegedly, found in God's eternal, secret decree, which cannot be known unless God reveals that secret list of the unconditionally elect, and He has elected not to reveal this alleged list. Thus not even Stephen Anderson, neither John Piper nor John Calvin, can know for certain whether or not they have been arbitrarily and unconditionally elected by God, or whether they are being deceived by God, and will later abandon the temporary faith and enlightenment granted to them by their deceptive God.

This ignorance of Anderson et al. insisting that Arminianism presents a different gospel is what he has been taught by the likes of John Owen (liar), J.I. Packer, as well as James White, all of whom explicitly confess that Arminians, in effect, "save themselves." But this obtuse confession fails on two counts: 1) we confess that only God can save (Titus 3:5); and 2) we confess that God Himself has elected to save those who, by grace, believe in Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 1:21; Heb. 7:25). Q. How, then, can we or do we "save ourselves"? A. One's faith is denoted as "the determinative factor in salvation," thus, Arminians determine whom God saves and not God Himself. This is exactly what Calvinists think on this issue: Arminians, in effect, save themselves. This is pure sophistry on the part of Calvinists -- a philosophical wrangling intent on making Calvinism appear biblical and faithful to the gospel of Christ. Their failure to properly assess Arminian theology is embarrassingly obvious.

First, God is the one who has determined to save believers, and He has determined to save them on the basis of faith in Jesus Christ. This uncontested fact we believe is rife throughout the New Testament (John 3:15, 16, 36; 4:14; 5:24, 40; 6:47; 6:50-58; 20:31; Rom 3:21-30; 4:3-5; 4:9, 11, 13, 16; 4:20-24; 5:1, 2; 9:30-33; 10:4; 10:9-13; 1 Cor 1:21; 15:1-2; Gal 2:15-16; 3:2-9; 3:11; 3:14, 22, 24; 3:26-28; Eph 1:13; 2:8; Phil 3:9; Heb 3:6, 14; 3:18-19; 4:2-3; 6:12; 1 John 2:23-25; 5:10-13, 20). God is sovereign over salvation. God alone saves. But He alone saves the one who, by grace, trusts in Jesus Christ. God does not save unbelievers. That statement deserves a re-read. (Mark 1:15; Luke 8:12; John 1:12; 3:16; Acts 16:31; Rom. 1:16-17; 3:22; 6:8; 10:9-10; 1 Cor. 1:21; Gal. 3:22; Eph. 1:19; 1 Tim. 1:16; Heb. 7:25; 11:6; 1 John 5:13)

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564) LEFT: JACOB ARMINIUS (1559-1609) RIGHT

Second, even faith in Jesus Christ does not itself save, because only God Himself, through His Holy Spirit, can save the one who trusts in Christ -- this faith even being a grace-induced response, and thus a gift (Eph. 2:5, 8), to the convicting work of the Spirit within the sinner. Since we know from St Paul that faith is not a work (Rom. 4:4, 5) then we also understand that believing in Christ is not a works-based plan of salvation, but a condition upon which God then regenerates and saves the believer (Titus 3:5).

Note, however, the biblical form: God, as stated above, has never, does not, nor ever will save the unbeliever but only the believer. In Calvinism, God saves the unbeliever, monergistically transforming her or him into a believer by first saving and regenerating the unbeliever. This is exactly contrary to the explicit teaching of Scripture. God saves the believer, not the unbeliever, gloriously saving the one who, by grace, believes into Jesus Christ. In essence, then, Calvinists have rejected God's own plan of salvation; and they have morphed God's biblical form into a scheme which denigrates Christ and His cross to a secondary notion -- a mere means by which God saves His unconditionally elect. If there is a system within Christian ranks that truly deserves the epithet of heresy, and guilty of denying the pure tenets of the gospel, then that system is Calvinism.

The obvious conclusion in Arminian theology is that God is still the one who determines who is and who is not saved. How? Because only He is capable of saving anyone; and He has determined, even predetermined, to save the one who, by grace, believes. If someone longs to argue that this notion is man-centered, then I think that one ought to consider whether he or she is charging God as detracting from His own alleged glory, and is not Himself man-centered. We think that the truth of God's plan to save the one who believes in Christ is as obvious as is the fact that Jesus Himself is the Son of God (John 1:34), the Savior of the world (John 4:42), who died to take away the sin of the world. (John 1:29)

If one's desire is to proffer that God has arbitrarily and unconditionally elected to save only some, and has decreed to damn the rest for His alleged glory, then the burden of proof surely rests on those who make such a claim. From St Augustine (354-430), the anachronistic inventor of Calvinism, to Calvin and Beza, onward to Edwards, Piper and Sproul, we think that this system belonging to their imaginations has failed to prove that the authors of Scripture, or even Jesus Christ Himself, teaches such an arcane, inane philosophy. We add, this sentiment is also belonging to the early Church fathers prior to Augustine, as well as to the majority of Christians throughout Church history. Therefore, we choose to disbelieve the rantings and ravings of Calvinists who charge us as propagating a different gospel. Still, we do not mind addressing such an imbecilic accusation, but rather intend to use the same as an opportunity toward education.

Calvinists: To prevent yourselves from further embarrassment, I encourage you to read the FACTS of Salvation in Arminian theology on the Society of Evangelical Arminians site; as well as the post: "What is Arminianism?" You all have labored under the weight of deception and misrepresentation long enough. The time is well past for you to do your homework, to assume some integrity, and to rightly represent classical Arminian theology.

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ABOUT WILLIAM BIRCH

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My name is William Birch and I grew up in the Southern Baptist tradition but converted, if you will, to Anglicanism in 2012. I am gay, affirming, and take very seriously matters of social justice, religion and politics in the church and the state.