Welcome to Wesleyan Arminian!

Welcome to my new blog: WesleyanArminian.wordpress.com

The focus of this blog will be Arminian theology from a Wesleyan perspective (if the title doesn’t give it away). Since I am a layman, this blog will come from a layman’s view. I write with conversational words (like “salvation”) instead of more academic terms (like “soteriology”). Big words distract me.

Coming up in the near future, I want to take a look at some key Calvinist proof texts. I’m planning an overview of: Romans 9, John 6, and Ephesians 1. I also want to address other topics of interest to Wesleyan Arminians. Stuff like: open theism, holiness, views of the atonement, inerrancy, the state of the church universal, etc.

This blog needs a face lift. If you have some suggestions, drop me a note.

In addition, I plan on updating the labels / tagging on some of the old posts to make them easier to find.

I will still be posting on my old blog here: seekadoo.blogspot.com. That blog will be devoted to family, politics, hobbies, and other sorts of interests.

To Him who is not willing that any should perish. To Him who is worthy to be praised. Further up and further in!

Kevin Jackson (Pizza Man)


Filed under about, welcome, Wesleyan Arminian

11 responses to “Welcome to Wesleyan Arminian!

  1. Jordan Ferrier

    I have a general question about the choice of the name of your Blog.
    A friend of mine told me that Wesleyans trace their origination to the Ana-Baptists (“one baptism”) which preceded the reformation, while Arminians would trace their origination to Arminius, obviously post-reformation.
    Not having done any study on this myself, I wondered if you had done any reading on this.
    Also, I like the C. S. Lewis reference; However, C. S. Lewis was not ‘reformed’ (calvinist or arminian). Lewis went directly to the point of refuting Calvin and Arminius in “The Problem of Pain” Chapter two and three.
    You can take a look at the book “Calvin & C. S. Lewis: Solving the Riddle of the Reformation” on amazon.com for a quote by quote comparison.
    I also prefer Irenaeus to Calvin’s “the glory of god is man damned to hell”


  2. Hi Jordan,

    Wesleyanism was a movement founded by John and Charles Wesley. They were Anglican reformers. Wesleyan influences included Anglicanism, Arminianism, the Moravians, and the Anabaptists. Anabaptist theology is largely consistent with Arminianism, though it predates it. John Wesley was also influenced by the Moravians. The Moravians were Lutherans who placed a special emphasis on piety and holiness. They also held to basic Arminian beliefs (that Jesus died for all, etc).

    John Wesley actually had a magazine called “The Arminian” and was a staunch proponent of Arminianism. If you haven’t read it before, be sure to read Wesley’s polemic against Calvinism called “Predestination calmly considered” (see link on the top right). It’s a great read.

    C.S. Lewis did not call himself Calvinist or Arminian, though of course his theology was much more consistent with Arminianism. For example in the Narnian books Aslan (God) is described as not safe but good. Aslan’s character is defined by his goodness.

    Here’s a great article from Arminans.org that argues that Lewis was basically Arminian.

  3. Jordan Ferrier

    Thanks for the info. I attend a Wesleyan Church but I am not a Wesleyan. My Pastor is a C. S. Lewis fan so we get along just fine.

    Lewis specifically stated “I am not a Calvinist”.

    You are correct that Lewis’s theology was more consistent with Arminianism. He specifically wrote against Calvinism as well as the parts of Armianism that agree with Calvinism: i.e. That God permitted and thus willed the fall to happen. He also wrote against voluntarism, which is embrace by both Calvinists and Arminians: That God is to be conceived of as some form of will, God has His attributes, and What God wills is correct because He so willed it.

    Lewis consistently embraced Classical Theism which was systematized by Thomas Aquinas. Aquinas and Lewis embraced a Natural Law, something opposed by anyone that embraces Total Depravity. Arminians embrace both Total Depravity and the natural Law. While Arminians embrace voluntarism in regard to the fall, they then switch (at least someone claiming to be an Arminian told me) to classical theism: That God is His attributes, the will of God flows from who He is (the nature of God is over the will of God), and Something is correct, therefore God wills it.

    Aquinas, George Mac Donald, G. K. Chesterton, J.R.R. Tolkien, and C. S. Lewis all explained this in their writings, or in the case of Tolkien, wrote consistent with Classical Theism. “Mere Christianity” book one is opposed by anyone that agrees with Total Depravity — at least without re-defining it to make it meaningless. “Miracles” explains the Scriptural foundation of Classical Theism and has at least one chapter written against calvinism. “The Abolition of Man” is just a brilliant and funny rant against Atheism and Calvinism. “The Problem of Pain” is a systematic destruction of Calvism since it addresses each issue in the order that Calvin explained them. “Out of the Silent Planet” and “Perelandra” (which Lewis consisdered his finest work) address Calvism and The Fall of A&E in a detailed philosophical framework. In “perelandra”, Weston is possed by Satan and he first argues for Panthesism, then Naturalism, then Calvinism. Ransom, who of course is the Christ figure, argues for and explains Classical Theism throughout.


  4. Jordan Ferrier

    I took a look at the article you provided the link to on C. S. Lewis.

    The author writes “As such (Helm) argues that God permitted the Fall (as do Arminians)”

    This is the belief that C. S. Lewis argues against in “The Problem of Pain” Chapter two, in the opening quote from Aquinas and then the first four paragraphs.

    The Author of the article needs to read George Mac Donalds “unspoken sermons”, Calvins “A treatise on the eternal predestination of God” and then Lewis. This article would look very different, especially the assertion that Lewis is a Classical Arminian, a statement as absurd to me as Packers assertion that Lewis was a confused Calvinist.


  5. Hi Jordan, Arminians reject voluntarism, and hold to realism as Lewis did. Arminian author Roger Olson wrote about that recently (see here– that voluntarism is the primary difference between A & C. He mention’s Lewis litmus test. Are things good because God says they are or does God say they are good because they are? Arminians say the latter.

    Arminians do hold to total depravity. If Lewis rejected TD, I agree that he was not Arminian. Arminians believe that no one seeks after God unless God draws him (John 6:44, John 12:32). We believe that the Holy Spirit convicts a person of sin, shows him his need for the Savior, and urges the person to repent. Without this work of God, we are unable to repent. The difference between A’s and C’s on this point is that A’s believe that God is in the process of drawing everyone to himself, and the drawing is resistable. With the Arminian view of TD, we are not left in a state of inability, and every person has the genuine opportunity to repent.

  6. Jordan Ferrier

    In reformed theology, both Calvin and Arminius believed:
    Adam and Eve had free will — the ability to sin and the ability to not sin.
    Free will was a good gift to Adam and Eve.
    The Fall was evil.
    Since God could have stopped A&E from sinning after Gen 2:16-17, A&E sinned by the permissive will of God.
    The Fall was the will of God.
    The Fall was evil.
    God willed evil to happen.
    The will of God is good.
    Evil is good and God is the author of evil.
    Since you believe that God willing evil to happen is incorrect, you are totally depraved.
    Albert Mohler (and R. C. Sproul agrees) “we don’t know what good is”. As Calvin puts it, you are judging God by the short rule of human justice. As a friend of mine puts it, you are imposing your sense of justice on God.
    This doctrine of Total Depravity means that our idea of good is worthless. The article that claims C. S. Lewis is a classical Arminian uses this quote from Lewis:
    “If God is not (in our sense) ‘good’ we shall obey, if at all, only through fear–and should be equally ready to obey an omnipotent Fiend. The doctrine of Total Depravity — when the consequence is drawn that, since we are totally depraved, our idea of good is worth simply nothing–may thus turn Christianity in a form of devil-worship.”
    Lewis gives the exact definition of Total Depravity used by Calvinists and Arminians and then points out that both are devil worshippers (not The Devil, but an omnipotent fiend and devil).

    Voluntarism is: God is to be conceived of as some form of will — God has his attributes. What God wills is correct because He so willed it.

    When Arminians say that A&E sinned by the ‘permissive will’ of God, they are embracing voluntarism: God is to conceived of as some form of will. They agree that God willed evil (the fall) to happen and God willing the fall is correct because He so willed it. The reason you think that God willing evil to happen to you is wrong is because you are totally depraved.

    Arminians only embrace voluntarism when it comes to the Fall and Total Depravity. After that they agree with “Thomism” (after Thomas Aquinas), or “intellectualism” which falls under the umbrella of what is called Classical Theism (the ‘classical’ is not a claim that this is the view of the church fathers or a claim for Orthodoxy–this is just the name given to the theological system):
    God is His attributes. The will of God flows from His attributes (For example, God does whatever He pleases and it pleases God to will in accord with His nature). Something is correct (there is a ‘natural Law’), therefore God wills it.

    If Olson is correct that Arminians reject voluntarism, then Arminians have left the teaching of Arminius on the Fall and on Total Depravity, which would be a good thing. The reason I believe the debate between Calvinists and Arminians has raged on for 500 years is that they both embrace the logical fallacy of a false dilemma: Either Calvin was right or Arminius was right. As I have amply pointed out, neither was right. There is a third option that is actually consistent with Scripture, and C. S. Lewis does an excellent job of explaning it.


  7. Hi Jordan, You do not describe what Arminians believe.

    We have different ideas of what total depravity is. Total Depravity does not mean that our idea of good is worthless. Every person deep down knows what right and wrong is. We know what is right and yet we do not do it. Total depravity means we do not seek after God without his drawing. That’s why God’s grace is necessary. Total depravity means that we do not have the capability to save ourselves. We need God’s mercy.

    Arminians do not believe in God willing sin as you describe. That would be voluntarism, but that is not what Arminians have believed, and this includes Arminius himself.

    I do not care for the term “permissive will”, because it is easily misunderstood. When Arminians speak of God’s permissive will, we mean that God created man in such a way that sin was possible but not necessary. God permitted sin, but did not render it certain. God permitted evil when he created beings who had the ability to make choices. The choice to sin was ultimately determined by the will of man and not by the will of God.

    God gave Adam the choice whether or not to follow him. God did this because he was interested in genuine relationship. God wanted Adam to freely follow, without compulsion. Adam did not have to sin, it was entirely possible that he could have chosen not to, and that of course was God’s preference.

    God’s permissive will is not voluntarism. God permits sin because he desires relationships. God himself is relational (Father Son, Spirit), His desiring of relationship is not an arbitrary thing, it is inherent to his character. We are relational creatures, and that in itself is good. We could not be genuinely relational without the the ability to make choices, and that is why sin is possible.

    So God permits sin because he desires relationships. This is not voluntarism, because relationships are good. Not because God says they are, but because they inherently are.

    Check out Sovereignty and Free will by Arminian author Jack Cottrell. He fleshes out some of what we’ve been discussing here, regarding what Arminians believe by permissive will.

  8. Jordan Ferrier

    We agree on God’s grace being necessary and probably many other things. In fact, much of what you write in your latest post I agree with.

    It is Arminius that uses the term “permissive will”, says that God could have stopped A&E from sinning and that the fall was permitted by the permissive will of God, thus God willed the fall to happen by His permissive will. You are free to ignore what the man said if you chose to do so.

    Intellectualism/Thomism does not believe that God has a “permissive will” –only voluntarism does. God does not ‘permit’ evil to happen, instead He gave mankind the good gift of free will and could not prevent A&E from sinning when they chose to do so. When man freely chooses to sin, it is because God gave man the ability to do so. After the fall, God does intervene to stop some amount of sin, but there is no Scripture where God gives someone the freedom to make a choice and then withholds that freedom from them.

    The words “Total Depravity” do not appear in Scripture, it is the logical conclusion of a philosophical assumption built upon a logically contradictory view of the Omnipotence of God, or ‘nonsense’ as C. S. Lewis calls it.

    Look at Romans 1:18 – 28. If man is totally depraved as you believe, how could man clearly perceive God in His creation. If man is totally depraved, how did God give him over to a reprobate mind. Is man now really totally depraved?

    It has been a pleasure as always. I am taking my son to see the desert in Texas. We leave on the 5th and return on the 17th, so I may not be around to torment you for awhile. :-)


  9. Jordan Ferrier

    As usual, five minutes later I think of a better explanation.

    In Intellectualism, God does not have a permissive will. God always wills in accord with His nature. God willed A&E should choose whether or not to obey Him. God willed that you should be able to choose if you believe in Arminanism. Perhaps I would have chosen Arminianism, but God chose to suspend my free will to believe in Arminianism, thus preventing me from sinning, and had me believe in Classical Theism (now there is some hubris for you! :-).

    If we sin by the ‘permissive will’ of God, then it is the will of God that we sin: God wills evil to happen, what God wills is good, therefore: evil is good, And it is a sin to call evil good!


  10. Jordan Ferrier

    Please forgive my impudence. I was laughing so hard at what Colin wrote that sarcasm crept into what I wrote to you. I sincerely apologize.

    You wrote: We know what is right and yet we do not do it.
    C. S. Lewis: “The Divine ‘goodness’ differs from ours, but it is not sheerly different: it differs from ours not as white from black but as a perfect circle from a child’s first attempt to draw a wheel. But when the child has learned to draw, it will know that the circle it then makes is what it was trying to make from the very beginning.

    I agree that man knows right from wrong, but not perfectly. Man has an impaired ability to know right from wrong.

    C. S. Lewis: “our tiny, miraculous power of free will only operates on bodies which His continual energy keeps in existence — our very power to think is His power communicated to us.”

    In Romans Chapter One, Man clearly perceives God in His creation. Man does the spiritual good of perceiving God.

    In Calvinism, total depravity means total inability. In Romans 3:12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” Calvinists say that “no one does good” does not mean that man does not do any good whatsoever, it means that man does not do any “spiritual good”. Man is totally unable to know what is right.

    As you correctly stated, Arminians believe that we have the ability to know what is right.
    This is why Calvinists are correct when they say that Arminians ‘redefine traditional theological terms’.

    The context of Romans 3:12 is clearly righteousness. No one is always good, or no one is good enough. A totally depraved man is incapable of any spiritual good, including knowing what good is. A fallen man with an impaired ability, is able to know what good is, but not perfectly. Fallen man is not capable of always being righteous, which is why God says that our righteousness is like filthy rags.

    Hopefully, this is something we can agree on.

    You wrote: God himself is relational (Father Son, Spirit), His desiring of relationship is not an arbitrary thing, it is inherent to his character. We are relational creatures, and that in itself is good. We could not be genuinely relational without the ability to make choices, and that is why sin is possible.

    This is another area of agreement. Because God is love, it was His will to give man the good gift of free will.

    Again, no where in your paragraph on ‘permissive will’ do you explain if God could have stopped A&E from sinning, or specifically, if God could have stopped them from using the free will He gave them to do something He specifically told them they were free to do.
    Were they free to eat the forbidden fruit or could God have stopped them so that they were not really free to do so and they really ate the permitted fruit?

    Voluntarism: God is to be conceived of as some form of will.
    Arminianism: God wills things to happen by His permissive will.
    Conclusion: God is to be conceived of as some form of will, specifically a ‘permissive will’.
    I agree that Arminians embrace intellectualism most of the time, I know Wesley did when he wrote about the justice of God. It is an unfortunate historical fact that Arminius embraced voluntarism in his view of the fall. When you “speak of God’s permissive will” you agree with Augustine, Calvin, Sproul, and Arminius that the fall was permitted and willed to happen in accord with God’s permissive will.


  11. Hi Jordan. I haven’t read much of Arminius’ original work, so you could be right. I agree that once God gave Adam and Eve freedom he could not prevent evil (short of destroying creation). He had the pysical power to prevent their sin, but not the coercive nature. Permissive will means that it was his will to create Adam and Eve with the capability to sin. It does not mean that God could prevent sin once he had created them, rather it means it was his will to create them with the ability.

    You are right, Calvinists and Arminians define total depravity differently. By Total Depravity, Arminians mean that we cannot seek after God without his drawing. We cannot please God on our own. We believe that people do know the difference between right and wrong.

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