Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Arminius - Closer Than You Might Think

We frequently refer to non-Calvinist evangelicals as "Arminians," in very broad sweeping terms. This is partly for simplicity, and partly because we view them as having some historical connection to Arminius. When one actually goes and reads what the historical Arminius wrote, one finds him to be much closer to the Reformed views than many of those to whom we attach the label "Arminians." The following is just one example:
The Essence of God is that by which God exists; or it is the first cause of motion of the Divine Nature by which God is understood to exist.
...
The Life of God, which comes to be considered under the second [momentum] cause of motion in the Divine Nature, is an act flowing from the Essence of God, by which his Essence is signified to be in action within itself. (Psalm xlii. 2; Heb. iii. 12; Num. xiv. 21.)
...
This [i.e. the Will of God] is the second faculty in the life of God, [§ 29,] which follows the Divine understanding and is produced from it, and by which God is borne towards a known good. Towards a good, because it is an adequate object of his will. And towards a known good, because the Divine understanding is previously borne towards it as a being, not only by knowing it as it is a being, but likewise by judging it to be good. Hence the act of the understanding is to offer it as a good, to the will which is of the same nature as the understanding, or rather, which is its own offspring, that it may also discharge its office and act concerning this known good. But God does not will the evil which is called that of "culpability;" because He does not more will any good connected with this evil than He wills the good to which the malignity of sin is opposed, and which is the Divine good itself. All the precepts of God demonstrate this in the most convincing manner. (Psalm v, 4, 5.)
Works of Arminius, Volume 1, Disputation 4, "On the Nature of God, Paragraphs VII, XXV, and XLIX.

One may note that Arminius' views changed over time. Evidently this disputation is taken from the time when Arminius "stood for his degree of D.D." I don't quote these paragraphs to endorse what Arminius had to say, but only to illustrate the apparent difference between Arminius and some of those who are viewed as Arminians.

I would particularly ask Godismyjudge (Dan) with whom I've been having a dialog, and who considers himself an Arminian, whether he accepts the description of God's nature, essence, life, and will of God provided by Arminius, or whether he distinguishes his position from that which Arminius evidently held.

-TurretinFan

UPDATE (16 July 2008): Godismyjudge (Dan) has provided a response (link) in which he suggests at least the following:

1) That there is some doubt that the work from which these quotations come are part of the true Arminian corpus (i.e. it's possible this work was actually the work of someone other than Arminius) - Dan nevertheless concedes that Arminius probably wrote it;

2) That there is a translation issue with respect to "first cause of motion" and "second cause of motion." Dan cites Richard Mullener [sp? - transcription from Dan's audio] who argues that Arminius was trying to refer to a "first logical moment" and a "second logical moment." Sadly, I don't have access to Arminus' original Latin, in order to get into the translation issue. I don't like having to rely only on a translation, and so if anyone can point me to the original Latin, I'd be happy to dig in further.

3) Dan makes some comment about Arminius' views evolving (and some theories about why they evolved). Those theories don't particularly concern me and I was't trying to hint at them. My point was simply that there was some indication by the editor or translator of Arminius' works that suggested that this might be one of the earlier works. Given that most men's views evolve over time, I wouldn't want someone to assume that Arminius didn't have the liberty (free will, if you prefer) to change his opinions over time.

4) Dan argues that (in Arminius) the work of making a decision are done by wisdom and reason, and the will simply acts on the final judgment of reason. Dan acknowledges that this sounds like the will is determined by the reason. Dan even acknowledges that this means that freedom attaches not actually to the will itself, but to the final (or last) judgment of reason.

5) Dan recommended the 11th Public Disputation, first paragraph, to explain the connection between the reason and the will in Arminius.

6) Dan argues that the "core" of Arminianism don't include the "tangled mess" of the relation of reason and the will. Dan defines Arminianism with respect to the TULIP acrostic, such that (in his view) Arminians are those who accept T and who reject U, L, and I. Dan seems to argue that both those who accept and those who reject P are properly designated Arminians.

7) Finally, Dan states that although he'd rather not get into this level of detail (because of the danger of taking such divisions too far), he does agree with Arminius (I presume he means as modified by Mullener [sp?]).

15 comments:

natamllc said...

Yes! I hope Dan answers this question TF!!!

Amazing that this one we have so much difficulty with in our present age would have this attributed to him:::>

Arminius:The Life of God, which comes to be considered under the second [momentum] cause of motion in the Divine Nature, is an act flowing from the Essence of God, by which his Essence is signified to be in action within itself. (Psalm xlii. 2; Heb. iii. 12; Num. xiv. 21.)


This really strikes a word of trembling in my soul!

So close yet so far away.

Aren't we all on any given day as we too battle the flesh against the Spirit and those tares come because of our ancient foes!

Mat 13:36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field."
Mat 13:37 He answered, "The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man.
Mat 13:38 The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one,
Mat 13:39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the close of the age, and the reapers are angels.
Mat 13:40 Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age.
Mat 13:41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers,
Mat 13:42 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Mat 13:43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.


Shine, shine, shine!

Albert Medina said...

Hi Turretinfan,

I have read the Canons of Dort but I have not done a lot of reading on Arminianism as written by Arminians. From what I have been seeing so far, there are Arminians who distance themselves from what we know as Wesleyan Arminianism. They argue that when Reformed Christians attack Arminian beliefs, they are particularly attacking this strand (i.e. the Wesleyan) of Arminianism. These Arminians say that they hold to the so-called Reformation Arminianism, holding to total depravity of man (as defined by them, of course) and to substitutionary atonement. Do you know which of these views is closer to what Arminius and his disciples taught? Thanks.

Turretinfan said...

Albert,

I haven't studied Arminius enough to say definitively. Certain aspects of Wesleyeanism (such as the idea that perfect sanctification is possible before death) are things I would be very surprised to find in Arminius.

-TurretinFan

Magnus said...

Let me see if I get this, please correct me if I’m wrong

Dan argues that (in Arminius) the work of making a decision are done by wisdom and reason, and the will simply acts on the final judgment of reason. Dan acknowledges that this sounds like the will is determined by the reason. Dan even acknowledges that this means that freedom attaches not actually to the will itself, but to the final (or last) judgment of reason.

So since God is perfect in wisdom and reason, then He cannot do otherwise. Doesn’t this pull the rug from under their feet?

GeneMBridges said...

Actually, Wesleyans will argue that they accentuate, and Wesley recovered, the doctrine of universal prevenient grace.

The Reformed argument against the claim by Arminians that they affirm T is not that they don't affirm it, rather, we claim that UPG makes it a practically nonfunctional category. UPG alleviates T such that the will is placed into a Libertarian state, so they say.

But LFW breaks down at the level of causality. Why, then, does one person believe and not another. UPG simply doesn't answer that question.

So UPG doesn't really accomplish anything for them. T is alleviated, so they only give lip service to it.

Likewise, notice the bait and switch in which they engage. On the one hand, the rail against us for our affirmation of determinism, but, by affirming T, they are accepting the determination of the will by sin.
Then, via UPG giving men LFW, they then proceed to deny determinism. You can't on the one hand argue against determinism while tacitly accepting it on the other.

Turretinfan said...

Good points all, brother Bridges! Good to see you here again!

-TurretinFan

natamllc said...

I want to be on the same page, UPG?

HUH??

It indeed is tacit and Dan is tacit in his replies.

I have noticed. What is wrong with frontal dialog?

Gene, the best and clearest response so far!

Can you continue being so clear? :)

I would post this to destroy the tacit tac being taken here in this LFW debate:

Pro 28:1 The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.

I would say the battle is for the souls of the Elect.

Turretinfan said...

UPG = Universal Prevenient Grace ... i.e. the false idea that although everyone is by nature the enemy of God, God gives absolutely everyone grace such that this is no longer a barrier to doing good things.

-TurretinFan

natamllc said...

TF

thanks for this definition:

TF:the false idea that although everyone is by nature the enemy of God, God gives absolutely everyone grace such that this is no longer a barrier to doing good things.

Yes, 'FALSE'.

Yes, it's an idea.

..."everyone is by nature," "everyone" meaning, only those of Adam's Race?

...."absolute", the only one Who is Absolute is God, yes? Creatures of God follow and follow according to Their "Will", yes?

...."no longer a barrier", hmmmm, then why was Paul writing about the "law" of sin and death, or Jesus teaching His disciples that we have to pick up our cross daily and follow Him??

...."to do good things", hmmmm, so Arminians believe their good things are acceptable before God, thus the tacit or subtle way they "gloss" over the reality and "Truth" of "total depravity" which Gene makes reference to above???

Assuming I am on the right path, how come we are not then talking about the explanation Jesus Himself gives about the wheat and the tares, the Elect Angels and the judgment?

Let me pose my understanding of Arminianism and see if it is correct:

Arminians believe in total depravity but explain it away tacitly because "once" they attain to a relationship perfection with God equal to our first parents, Adam and Eve before the fall as described in Genesis Three they believe that all their good works after such perfection is attained are acceptable to God and acknowledged by God at the Judgment as acceptable, i.e., the wheat and tares and the sheep and goats found at Matthew 13 and 25?

That definition may be an over simplification and board in reach in defining the Arminian's faith??

GeneMBridges said...

UPG = Universal Prevenient Grace ... i.e. the false idea that although everyone is by nature the enemy of God, God gives absolutely everyone grace such that this is no longer a barrier to doing good thing.

It works this way...

Press T

Save file as .UPG

Wait...

...

..

.

Now it says you have to download Realplayer 8.

:D


Yes, I'm coming out of my vacation soooooon...My official debut will be something special for the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Mary next month...

GeneMBridges said...

...."to do good things", hmmmm, so Arminians believe their good things are acceptable before God, thus the tacit or subtle way they "gloss" over the reality and "Truth" of "total depravity" which Gene makes reference to above???

This is why we tell them that they make faith a "work." Believing in Christ is a good thing, but if everybody gets the same grace, then those who believe must be improving on God's grace, and that's the essence of making faith a "work."

natamllc said...

TF and Gene,

thanks.

I will hold to Paul then, live like Abraham and say:

Eph 2:4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,
Eph 2:5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved--
Eph 2:6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
Eph 2:7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
Eph 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
Eph 2:9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.


Rom 4:1 What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh?
Rom 4:2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.
Rom 4:3 For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness."
Rom 4:4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due.
Rom 4:5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,
Rom 4:6 just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:
Rom 4:7 "Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered;
Rom 4:8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin."
Rom 4:9 Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness.
Rom 4:10 How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised.
Rom 4:11 He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well,
Rom 4:12 and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

GeneMBridges said...

Natamllc,

I just wanted to say that your posts often make my day, because they are so richly filled with Scripture.

Thank you!

Robert Tomlinson said...

For all posting-

How does the Arminian concept of prevenient grace differ from the Calvinist concept of common grace? It seems to me that they each describe one and the same thing. Thanks in advance for your help.

Bob Tomlinson

Turretinfan said...

Bob,

I've answered your question in a new post (link).

-TurretinFan