Saturday, December 03, 2005

 

Sidetracked again

Another comment on the Challies website moved me to posting this reply. I think a part of the problem comes from people who do not take the trouble to find out what authentic Arminian theology really teaches. The attacks on supposed "Arminianism" are almost always attacks on misunderstandings, and on Pelagian "Aunt Sallys", without ensuring that the points they are making are comments on genuine Arminianism. But to allow them an excuse, a lot of woolly theology is heard these days, from people who don't have the knowledge of either the Bible nor of what "founding fathers" like the Wesleys actually taught. In my early days as a Methodist Local Preacher, I frequently found that I was drawn to the Wesley hymns in the Methodist Hymn Book when choosing hymns for a service. I had to make an effort to chose non-Wesley hymns as a balance. These days, so few Wesley hymns are sung - certainly not a great range of them - that probably only 3 of them are known.

Posted to Challies web site blog.

[quote="blakelaw"]The minute (but massive) distinction I've heard Arminians make is that 'grace is free, but you have to ask for it'.
Of course, I believe a grace like that is no grace at all, but cheap and ineffective. Nevertheless, Arminians insist you have to ask for it, and that choice is ultimately yours.
To that, I say (quoted from my blog):
[quote]Well why would Jesus die on the cross at all? Nobody asked him to--I mean, except for God. And except that he laid it down of his own accord (not of yours, or mine, or any man's). Arminian grace would need for us to ask Jesus to die before he even died.[/quote]
Arminian brothers, do you see what I mean? Do you think this is a correct understanding of Arminian grace?
[/quote]

NO!

No!

No!

A total misunderstanding of Arminian theology.

Did you not read the Wesley hymns I posted? (And these are one form of a "credal" statement because John Wesley compiled the hymn book, of which his brother's hymns formed a majority but NOT to the exclusion of others including the more calvinistic Isaac Watts, with the intention of a body of teaching which illiterate poor people could remember.) They are all about what God has done because we are unable in any way to save ourselves.

Arminianism teaches that we cannot initiate our own salvation - only respond to it. It is a ridiculous false presentation of Arminian thinking to suggest as you do that we would have to ask Jesus to die on the cross.

"Prevenient grace" is the Arminian teaching that God initiates our salvation in all respects, including that He seeks us out, and that we respond to His work. We do not have it in ourselves to initiate any of our salvation. It is all of God. But I must admit, having said that, that Luke ch. 15 very clearly teaches what some calvinists think Arminianism teaches, which is that we can initiate our search for God, our getting up and going to look for Him. (I think it also balances this with the Arminian concept of the seeking God, porttrayed by the Father who looked daily for his son to return home.)

Now to your other point, "Grace is free".

Mercy is help given to those who can't help themselves. Gk. Eleos. It is used in the NT both of almsgiving on the human level, and of God's mercy in salvation.

Grace, gk. charis, is mercy shown to those who don't deserve it. It is not earned. It is the gift offered. And it is free. It is not an entitlement nor is it a wage. (Sin pays a wage, but thecharis of God is life.) But charis may also be costly to the giver. That charis is free to the recipient tells us nothing at all about the cost to the giver. For that we need additional information.

But the gift offered is not the gift received until the person to whom it is offered has chosen to accept it. Here is the "bottom-line". The very idea of charis depends upon both a free offer and a willing acceptance. Otherwise it is not charis.

So now we come to the main issue. Arminian theology tells us that, totally consistent with the intrinsic nature of charis, the recipient is not a robot who is forced to receive the gift. He (she) is a human being, with full moral responsibility, and able to choose willingly to accept this costly gift which God freely offers us.

To sum up, in Arminianism, Salvation is : -
Totally the work of God;
Totally provided by God;
Totally initiated by God;
Totally paid for by God;
Mercy shown to those who are totally unable to do anything to save themselves;
A gift offered freely to those who don't deserve it;
A gift received in response to God's prior action;
A gift which is not forced upon anyone, but is willingly and thankfully received by someone who is free to reject it.

All this is totally Biblical.

There are other points, but this will have to do for now.

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