Calvinism and Arminianism 22

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.”
So it is not irreligious, idle, or superfluous, but in the highest degree wholesome and necessary, for a Christian to know whether of not his will has anything to do in matters pertaining to salvation. Indeed, let me tell you, this is the hinge on which our discussion turns, the crucial issue between us; our aim is, simply, to investigate what ability ‘free-will’ has, in what respect it is the subject of Divine action and how it stands related to the grace of God. If we know nothing of these things, we shall know nothing whatsoever of Christianity, and shall be in worse case than any people on earth…That God’s mercy works everything, and our will works nothing, but is rather the object of Divine working, else all will not be ascribed to God. (Luther’s Reply to Erasmus)

Luther says that it is in the highest degree wholesome and necessary to know about the things of our will in matters pertaining to salvation. Yet in the modern day it is thought to be idle and superfluous to bring up matters of the will. So clearly we have Luther and the magisterial reformers standing strongly for teaching about the will in matters of salvation while those in the modern day think that it is idle or superfluous. The evangelism of our day simply teaches men to know a few things and then to make a decision or pray a prayer. But if we don’t teach people about the nature of the will, then those people will be making decisions and praying prayers from the flesh and there is nothing in the flesh that can please God. That leaves people thinking that they are converted when in fact they are still children of the devil on their way to hell, though just a bit more religious.
Modern evangelism, since it does not instruct people about the bondage of the will, leads people into thinking that salvation has little to do with God’s actions now. It leads people to thinking that God has done all He can or at least all He is going to do and it is up to them now. The way that the Puritan fathers practiced evangelism was to tell people that they could not believe unless God granted it to them by grace. They were instructed to seek the Lord asking Him to give them new hearts which would be hearts that believed. The differences between these ways are enormous, yet one relies on man and his so-called “free-will” and the other relied upon God and His sovereign will and pleasure. To repeat, yet a very necessary emphasis, Luther said that a person that did not know of these things (the ability of God and the inability of man in the matters of the will) knew nothing whatsoever of Christianity. This should be a bomb going off in the “evangelical” and “Reformed” world of today which seemingly refuses to teach people of these things.
Putting the first quote at the top of this page together with the thoughts of Luther, we should be concerned that professing Arminians (who are most likely Pelagians in reality) know nothing of Christianity since they are apparently unconcerned and not taught regarding things of the will. In our day we are far more concerned with being gracious and winsome so we can convince people to make a decision than we are to instruct them in the things that Luther tells us are the “highest degree wholesome and necessary to know about.” Could it be that the modern day Reformed folks have also gotten away from the heart of the biblical teaching of justification by faith alone with has to do with the bondage of the will? Could it be, that despite having more and more people becoming confessional, that more and more people are ignoring what is the “highest degree wholesome and necessary to know about” according to Luther? Can we really believe justification by faith alone as Luther taught it if we ignore what he thought was in the highest degree necessary to knowing true Christianity? I fear we are in a day of great darkness and judgment as indeed books from scholars with great learning in many things pour from the presses.

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