Calvinism and Arminianism 6

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.

The Reformation is thought of as bringing back to light the great doctrine of justification by faith alone. But if Luther was correct, there is no justification by faith alone apart from the teaching that man is helpless in his sin and that twin teaching of the sovereignty of the grace of God. Apart from the bondage of the will, which is the opposite and even contradictory position of the free-will, there is no biblical teaching of justification by faith alone. This is to say, then, that modern Calvinist who most likely affirm and defend their confession which holds to justification by faith alone are inconsistent at best when the affirm Arminians (most likely, Pelagians) are brothers and sisters in Christ. It is also a sign that something drastic has changed or is a declaration that the magisterial Reformers were simply and plainly wrong.

We can say with certainty that when the magisterial Reformers asserted that the Gospel could only be seen in light of the bondage of the will or the enslaved will and yet modern people who think of themselves as Calvinists deny that in practice, something has changed. It was not Hyper-Calvinism that stood against Roman Catholicism and its incipient Arminian theology, it was the Reformers themselves that stood against that. Are modern Calvinists (in name) ready to brand Calvin and Luther as Hyper-Calvinists or are they willing to say that Calvin and Luther were simply wrong about the Gospel? We cannot have it both ways, it is one or the other.

Luther said that the bondage of the will (enslaved will), as opposed to the free-will, was worth standing for even if it disturbed the whole world. But in our day, nothing appears worth standing for if it disturbs just a few. The doctrine of the will is not just some plaything for academics to discuss, it is vital for the common man to come to understand about himself if he is going to understand the Gospel of grace alone. Until the soul is humbled enough to where it sees that it has nothing in itself that it can do or depend on, it will not understand the Gospel of grace alone where man looks to God alone for all regarding to salvation and that God gives that by grace alone. Oh that Reformed people would understand these things today that they could preach and proclaim the Gospel of grace alone to those who still trust something in themselves and the acts of their own wills.

But a man cannot be thoroughly humbled till he realizes that his salvation is utterly beyond his own powers, counsels, efforts, will and works, and depends absolutely on the will, counsel, pleasure and work of Another—God alone. As long as he is persuaded that he can make even the smallest contribution to his salvation, he remains self-confident and does not utterly despair of himself, and so is not humbled before God; but plans out for himself (or at least hopes and longs for) a position, an occasion, a work, which shall bring him final salvation. Martin Luther

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