BEN: Why was Arminius accused of Pelagianism or semi-Pelagianism if in fact he was clear that prevenient grace comes to a person purely by unmerited divine initiative? KEITH: This controversy is inherent in the Protestant Reformation itself. To the degree that the magisterial Reformation was a reaction to a perceived works-based salvation, energized by the central insight of salvation by grace alone through faith alone, there was a corresponding degree of worry about anything that seemed to leave room for… Read more

BEN: In regard to the old chestnut about God’s knowing and willing it seems clear that Calvin would say God knows it because he wills it, and therefore Calvin makes God’s will (and its exercise in sovereignty) logically prior to God’s knowledge, whereas Arminius insists on just the opposite— God wills things on the basis of what he knows about things. Right? Further, it seems clear that Arminius wants to say that God acts always according to his goodness, his… Read more

BEN: Would it be correct to say that Arminius rejects Calvin’s strong distinction between the secret decrees and will of God and the revealed will of God, which allowed for the possibility that God’s revealed will might appear to contradict his secret or hidden will (e.g. it might appear from Scripture that God desires for none to perish and all to be saved, but in fact in his secret will and decrees God predetermined some to be reprobated)? In other… Read more

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REDISCOVERING KING JESUS— PHILIP JENKINS This year marks a remarkable anniversary in the study of Christian history. Seventy years ago, in late 1945, some Egyptian peasants discovered a trove of early Christian texts including several alternative gospels, all probably buried in the 380s. When they became available in translation in the 1970s, these so-called Nag Hammadi texts caused enormous excitement, suggesting as they did that the earliest Christianity was far more diverse in tone than we might expect from the… Read more

BEN: Arminius seems to work hard to avoid making God the author of sin, or of anything evil for that matter, including the Fall. He is very willing to talk about God’s ‘permissive’ will when this subject comes up, though he does talk about God permitting such things for two reasons: 1) because he has endowed human beings with genuine freedom, by which I mean the power of contrary choice, the ability to choose or not choose good or evil;… Read more

BEN: There is also a strong emphasis early on in the book on what is called the ‘intellectualist’ approach to the nature of God, which is to say that God’s knowledge is given priority over God’s will in the divine attributes. This in turn seems to lead Arminius in a very different direct than Calvin when it comes to figuring out the relationship between God’s knowledge and God’s will (e.g. Calvin and later Calvinists would argue that God knows things… Read more

BEN: Jacob Arminius seems to be a frequently misrepresented theologian, whose works have been neglected, and lack readily accessible translations into English from the Latin and Dutch. To what would you attribute this neglect, and would you see this as an explanation for why his theology is so often caricatured in various unhelpful ways? KEITH: There are many reasons why Arminius’ writings have been neglected. Although there is an accessible English edition of the main body of Arminius’ works available… Read more

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Kudos to Vivian Sawyer for finding this. It’s got some helpful points, though it ignores the rhetorical character of Hebrews unfortunately. Read more

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