Calvinism and Arminianism 5

One of the greatest differences between the evangelical Calvinists and those they deride as “Hyper-calvinists,” is the evangelical Calvinists believe Arminians and Pelagians are otherwise sound “Christians,” and refer to them as their brothers and sisters. The Hyper-calvinists believe that as long as one is unconverted from his natural freewill state by the operation of the Spirit of God, and converted to the free grace of God by the Gospel of the grace of God, there is insufficient evidence to consider such as a “Christian,” or a “brother or sister.” This is not to say that they consign them to hell–that is not their desire, for by their own experience they understand that before that gracious divine call out of darkness, they, too, were “vessels of wrath even as others.” Arminians and Pelagians are as much in need for the gospel as any “heathen” or pagan. Calvinists would do well to “evangelize” their Arminian or Pelagian “brothers and sisters.”

Luther taught that the heart of the issue of the Reformation was the doctrine of the enslaved will. He said that it was worth standing for even if it disturbed the whole world. On the other hand, in the modern day we have those who are not willing to cause a disturbance in a denomination to teach this doctrine. They are willing to hold hands and to build bridges with those who deny and hate this doctrine. The enslaved will is at the very heart of the Gospel and the Gospel has two twin truths that the enslaved will supports. 1) The helplessness of man in his sin and 2) the sovereignty of the grace of God. Apart from those twin truths there is no justification by faith alone.

Can it be true that Luther was right about the enslaved will being at the heart of the Gospel and that two twin truths demand that the enslaved will be true? If that is true, then we live in a day where there has been a rapid departure from the Gospel of Jesus Christ, even by professing Calvinists. Once again, if we truly believe that God used the Reformers to bring the Gospel of grace alone and His glory alone back to the forefront in opposition to Roman Catholicism, then we must be awakened to these great truths again. It will not suffice to simply utter the words that are true and orthodox, we must be awakened to the concepts and the doctrines as they describe the reality of our fallen and enslaved wills and hearts to us. Arminian teaching is the essence of Roman Catholicism, at least in many ways, and we must understand that to go back to Arminian teaching is to return to the essence of Rome. The doctrines and practices of Rome depend on the free-will of man. For professing Calvinists to return with a friendly dialogue with Arminian teaching is to say that the Reformers were wrong.

This is not to say that there is no such teaching as Hyper-Calvinism and that there is nothing wrong at all with some of the people in history who went under that name, but it is to say that perhaps we need to go to Scripture first and to the Reformers second to find out just how vital the teaching of the enslaved will is. If the heart of the issue at the Reformation did indeed revolve around the enslaved will, then what are we doing now by not having all revolve around the enslaved will? It will show that we have departed from the two twin truths that the enslaved will supports: 1) The helplessness of man in his sin and 2) the sovereignty of the grace of God.”

When the quote above says “Apart from those twin truths there is no justification by faith alone,” it shows once again the heart of the Gospel as Luther and Calvin saw it. The heart of justification by faith alone is justification by grace alone. For the Gospel to be by grace alone, man cannot contribute one thing to it and there can be act of a free-will. For the will to be free, it must be both free of depravity and free of grace. A step back to Arminian teaching on the will is to step back from the Gospel of grace alone through faith alone to the glory of God alone. The Scriptures (Rom 11:6) teach us that if it is by grace, then it is no longer by works because that would mean that grace is no longer grace. Adding the act of a will is to add a work of a will and that is adding to grace which means that grace is no longer grace. This is not unkind to Arminians or to modern Calvinists, but it is an effort to show them that the Gospel is not just accepting a creed and it is not just having some intellectual knowledge. Being nice to ourselves and to Arminians is not as important as the Gospel. We must wake up to the glory of God and get back to the essential truths of the Gospel whether men like them or not.

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