Tuesday, November 05, 2002

I don't like Arminianism

Today I want write about why I am glad that I am not Arminian. This is very different than why I am not Arminian. The reason I am not Arminian is because I think it is not the biblical position. If it were, I would have to accept it, and I would be a reluctant Arminian. Instead I am a happy Calvinist.

So today’s post is not about why I think the Arminian position is wrong biblically, but rather why I dislike it viscerally.

The Strange Calculus Of Arminianism

One thing I dislike about Arminianism is its inherent indeterminism. It is imprecise. I don't like that. Let me explain what I mean.

If we look at a "grace required for salvation" spectrum, we have something like this:
  • Pelagianism: Grace = 0%

  • Calvinism: Grace = 100%

  • Arminianism (semi-Pelagianism) 0% < Grace < 100%
Now every Arminian I know says that grace is not only required, but that salvation is "almost all" (that blasted imprecision) of grace. Nevertheless, a little free-will based cooperation on the part of the sinner is also required. So one cannot escape the fact that it is not 100% grace. Maybe it's 99%. Whatever it is, it leads us to the question of why some are able, of their own, to supply the other missing requirements, while others are not. The grace of God is necessary but not sufficient. Regeneration is synergistic: a cooperative effort balancing the tension between God’s sovereignty and man's free will. Some people have what it takes to do their part, and others don't (how unfair!).

I like the Calvinistic position much better. It is all grace. Regeneration is completely an act of God: it is monergistic. There is no cooperation required. I contribute only my sins. It's precise. It makes sense.

The Impossible Demand

Arminianism places an impossible burden on the sinner. He must believe prior to being regenerated. That missing part, supplied in the Arminian synergistic regeneration by the sinner, is faith. Not a mature, complete faith, but nevertheless faith. It must come first. In Arminianism, faith precedes regeneration. But I cannot believe something I don't believe. I cannot make myself believe in the gospel message. Before I can believe, I must be changed. I must be regenerated. In a sense, the faith must be supplied to me, for I cannot provide it on my own. In Calvinism, regeneration precedes faith. Regeneration is the sine qua non of faith.

When we say the regeneration precedes faith, we are talking more of dependencies than literal chronologies. In other words, faith depends on regeneration and justification depends on faith. In a temporal sense, they may all occur at the same time.

I want to reemphasize that this post is about why I don’t like Arminianism. Thankfully, I also find it to be non-biblical, but that is an entirely different discussion altogether.

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