Monthly Archives: July 2008

Armini.us

Here is another new Arminian web site: armini.us

It is a little sparse on content, but they seem to steadily be adding to the site. It has a very nice layout. They seem to be from more of the Wesleyan perspective than the Classical Arminian view.

Anyway, it’s great to see another good resource coming on line!

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Can Salvation be Lost?

Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:22-23

In this post I want to look at some of the different views on the possibility of losing salvation. Before looking at each view it’s important to ask two questions:

1) How is Salvation “gained”? By works, by faith, or by decree?
2) How is Salvation “kept”?, By works, by faith, or by decree?

I’m going to propose 5 views, that come about through the way we answer these two questions.

View #1) Salvation is gained by works, it is kept by works. Net result: Salvation can be easily lost.
This view says salvation is dependent on what we do. If we do enough good and avoid enough bad then God gives us get a ticket to heaven. This view is popular among nominal Catholics and Protestants. It is also popular among some heterodox groups like the LDS.

The main problem with this view is that it makes Jesus’ death unnecessary. If we can make it on our own why did he need to die? And a practical concern with this view is that one never knows how much work to do to obtain salvation. As a result there is no security. Scriptural support for this view is essentially zero.

View #2) Salvation is gained by faith in Jesus, it is kept by good works. Net result: Salvation can be easily lost.
One can become a true Christian, but if he sins once he loses his salvation and must repent again to get it back. One must be in a “state of grace” to get to heaven. Lather, Rinse, Repeat. This view is common among Catholics and also some Arminians.

The problem with this view is there is no security for the believer. One accidental sin can cause you to forfeit your salvation. In its more extreme forms this view also leads back to a “works” view of gaining salvation. It envisions a “Santa Claus” type God, who’s making a list and checking it twice. This view leaves us open to deception from the enemy who is eager to convince us that we’re no longer saved. It can also actually encourage sin. Just confess it after the fact and you’re good to go again (Romans 6:1-2)

View #3) Salvation is gained by faith in Jesus, It is kept by faith in Jesus. Net result: Salvation can not be “lost”, but it can be forfeited.
In this view losing Salvation is a possibility, but it only comes about by a deliberate choice and doesn’t happen by accident. It must be walked away from. This is the view of many Arminians.

Problems: this view must be reconciled with passages which seem to imply that salvation can not be forfeited (like John 10:28). And like view #2 it also potentially leaves us open to deception from the enemy who is eager to convince us that we have lost faith and committed the unpardonable sin.

View #4) Salvation is gained by faith in Jesus, It is kept by decree of God. Net result: Salvation can not be lost one we have believed.
In this view we must believe to be saved, but once we have believed we are “sealed” by God, and there is no longer a possibility that salvation can be lost. This view is popular among some Arminians, Southern Baptists, and some other groups groups like Calvary Chapel.

The strength of this view is that the believer has both full assurance and security in Christ. The weakness is that it discounts the many warning passages in scripture. It can also result in believers thinking they have a license to sin.

View #5) Salvation is gained by decree of God, It is kept by decree of God. Net result: Salvation can not be lost.
Faith in Jesus is an inevitable result of God’s eternal decrees. It does not come from anything in the believer. Those whom Jesus died for will certainly be saved. This view is often called “monergism” and is popular among Calvinists.

Problems with this view: First, it has the same weaknesses of view #4 (discounts the warning passages, gives a license to sin). Secondly it denies assurance. Those whom God decrees will certainly be saved, but no one knows what God has decreed. This view can cause us to doubt the good character of God, and can easily lead to a fatalistic attitude.

Works, Faith, and Decree
It’s important to note that while there are at least 5 views on the possibility of losing salvation, there are really only 3 views on how salvation is given to us by God, and only three views on how salvation is kept. In each case it is by works, by faith in Jesus, or by unconditional decree.

The Arminian distinctive – We all agree on question #1: Salvation is given by God through faith in Jesus.
For Arminians, we all agree that salvation comes through faith in Jesus, however, there is disagreement on how is salvation kept. It has often been assumed by Calvinists (and others) that all Arminians believe salvation can be easily be lost. This is an unfortunate misunderstanding. The heart of Arminianism is that salvation comes by faith in Jesus. However, there is diversity on the second question: How is salvation kept? As a result, out of the 5 views described, Arminians can logically hold to view #2, #3, and #4.

It has been my observation that some Christians (Southern Baptists in particular) don’t want to be labeled Arminian because they strongly disagree with view #2. This aversion to the Arminian label is unnecessary. One can hold to view #4 and still be Arminian. The root issue for Arminians is that salvation is genuinely offered by God to all, and the means he has ordained for us to be saved is through our faith in Jesus Christ.

My point here is not that this issue of losing salvation is unimportant or irrelevant to Arminians. It clearly is very important, but there is disagreement on the issue because of the way we answer the second question, not the first one. As Arminians we need to allow room for differences of opinion on the matter, and we need to teach others that not all Arminians hold to view #2 or even view #3.

Conclusion:
There are several scripturally reasonable positions that can be taken on this issue. And to be fair, none of the views are without difficulty. No matter what our understanding, may we show love to those believers who disagree with us.

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Filed under assurance, perseverance, salvation, Uncategorized

Arminian Articles on SEA

Here are some great Arminian resources available on the SEA website (Society for Evangelical Arminians). Thanks to Ben Henshaw for putting together this list.

  • A DISCOURSE ON THE FREEDOM OF THE WILL
  • Arminius, James. “ANALYSIS OF THE NINTH CHAPTER OF THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS”
  • Arminius, The Scapegoat of Calvinism Part 1 (Arminian Magazine)
  • Arminius, The Scapegoat of Calvinism Part 2 (Arminian Magazine)
  • Arminius, The Scapegoat of Calvinism Part 3 (Arminian Magazine)
  • Arminius- Hero or Heretic?
  • Calvinism — Ten Little Caveats (Bob Moore)
  • Corporate Election
  • Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Arminian (Olson)
  • Edgar, Thomas R. “THE MEANING OF PROGINWSKW (”FOREKNOWLEDGE”)”
  • Election in Romans Chapter Nine (Hamilton)
  • Extent of the Atonement (Ware)
  • For All, For All My Savior Died (Marshall)
  • Foreknowledge, Freedom, and the Future (Picirilli)
  • Is God’s knowledge the cause of all things?
  • John Fletcher: “REPLY TO THE PRINCIPAL CALVINIST AND FATALIST ARGUMENTS FOR THE DOCTRINE OF ABSOLUTE NECESSITY”
  • John Wesley as a Theologian of Grace
  • Moral Agency and Accountability
  • Objections To Calvinism As It Is
  • On Predestination (Wesley)
  • Paul’s Use of Kalein: A Proposal
  • Post-Calvinism (McKnight)
  • Predestination Calmly Considered (Wesley)
  • Romans 9 (Adam Clarke)
  • S. M. BAUGH AND THE MEANING OF FOREKNOWLEDGE: ANOTHER LOOK
  • Salvation by Faith, Applied (Picirilli)
  • Sovereignty and Free Will (Cottrell)
  • The Extant of the Atonement (Ryrie)
  • The Extent of the Atonement (Picirilli)
  • The False Antithesis Between Monergism and Synergism: A Lesson from Historical Theology
  • The Five Points of Calvinism: “Weighed and Found Wanting”
  • The Possibility of Apostasy (Picirilli)
  • The Problem of Apostasy in NT Theology (Marshall)
  • The Question, ‘What Is an Arminian?’ Answered by a Lover of Free Grace
  • The Theology of the Atonement (Marshall)
  • The Warning Passages In Hebrews (McKnight)
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    Filed under Arminianism, Society of Evangelical Arminians

    Oh Horrible Decree

    By Charles Wesley


    Ah! Gentle, gracious Dove,
    And art thou grieved in me,
    That sinners should restrain thy love,
    And say, “It is not free:
    It is not free for all:
    The most, thou passest by,
    And mockest with a fruitless call
    Whom thou hast doomed to die.”

    They think thee not sincere
    In giving each his day,
    “ Thou only draw’st the sinner near
    To cast him quite away,
    To aggravate his sin,
    His sure damnation seal:
    Thou show’st him heaven, and say’st, go in
    And thrusts him into hell.”

    O HORRIBLE DECREE
    Worthy of whence it came!
    Forgive their hellish blasphemy
    Who charge it on the Lamb:
    Whose pity him inclined
    To leave his throne above,
    The friend, and Saviour of mankind,
    The God of grace, and love.

    O gracious, loving Lord,
    I feel thy bowels yearn;
    For those who slight the gospel word
    I share in thy concern:
    How art thou grieved to be
    By ransomed worms withstood!
    How dost thou bleed afresh to see
    Them trample on thy blood!

    To limit thee they dare,
    Blaspheme thee to thy face,
    Deny their fellow-worms a share
    In thy redeeming grace:
    All for their own they take,
    Thy righteousness engross,
    Of none effect to most they make
    The merits of thy cross.

    Sinners, abhor the fiend:
    His other gospel hear—
    “The God of truth did not intend
    The thing his words declare,
    He offers grace to all,
    Which most cannot embrace,
    Mocked with an ineffectual call
    And insufficient grace.

    “The righteous God consigned
    Them over to their doom,
    And sent the Saviour of mankind
    To damn them from the womb;
    To damn for falling short,
    “Of what they could not do,
    For not believing the report
    Of that which was not true.

    “The God of love passed by
    The most of those that fell,
    Ordained poor reprobates to die,
    And forced them into hell.”
    “He did not do the deed”
    (Some have more mildly raved)
    “He did not damn them—but decreed
    They never should be saved.

    “He did not them bereave
    Of life, or stop their breath,
    His grace he only would not give,
    And starved their souls to death.”
    Satanic sophistry!
    But still, all-gracious God,
    They charge the sinner’s death on thee,
    Who bought’st him with thy blood.

    They think with shrieks and cries
    To please the Lord of hosts,
    And offer thee, in sacrifice
    Millions of slaughtered ghosts:
    With newborn babes they fill
    The dire infernal shade,
    “For such,” they say, “was thy great will,
    Before the world was made.”

    How long, O God, how long
    Shall Satan’s rage proceed!
    Wilt thou not soon avenge the wrong,
    And crush the serpent’s head?
    Surely thou shalt at last
    Bruise him beneath our feet:
    The devil and his doctrine cast
    Into the burning pit.

    Arise, O God, arise,
    Thy glorious truth maintain,
    Hold forth the bloody sacrifice,
    For every sinner slain!
    Defend thy mercy’s cause,
    Thy grace divinely free,
    Lift up the standard of thy cross,
    Draw all men unto thee.

    O vindicate thy grace,
    Which every soul may prove,
    Us in thy arms of love embrace,
    Of everlasting love.
    Give the pure gospel word,
    Thy preachers multiply,
    Let all confess their common Lord,
    And dare for him to die.

    My life I here present,
    My heart’s last drop of blood,
    O let it all be freely spent
    In proof that thou art good,
    Art good to all that breathe,
    Who all may pardon have:
    Thou willest not the sinner’s death,
    But all the world wouldst save.

    O take me at my word,
    But arm me with thy power,
    Then call me forth to suffer, Lord,
    To meet the fiery hour:
    In death will I proclaim
    That all may hear thy call,
    And clap my hands amidst the flame,
    And shout,—HE DIED FOR ALL

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    Audio Links: George Bryson

    George Bryson has a three part audio series on the problems with Calvinism. Link here. This is a great series. Unfortunately the format is Real Audio, so it can’t be downloaded to a portable audio player. If anyone knows of an mp3 link let me know. :)

    Bryson is affiliated with Calvary Chapel. He considers himself a Non-Calvinist, but not an Arminian. He has also written two books critical of Calvinism:

    “The Five Points of Calvinism: Weighed and Found Wanting”
    “The Dark Side of Calvinism: The Calvinist Caste System”

    The “Five Points” book is a great primer for anyone who is looking into the Arminian/Calvinist debate for the first time, and wants a simple overview of the issues at hand. It is available online for free: here  and here

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    Filed under Arminian Audio, George Bryson

    Anyone Speak Portugese?

    Here’s an Arminian resource if you speak Portugese. I ran the page through Babel Fish, it looks like a great site. :)

    www.arminianismo.com

    Interesting side note: Babel Fish translates “Deus” as “God”, while Google sometimes translates the term as “Allah”.

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