A Guest Post: “Three Reasons Why I Preach An Arminian Theology”

“Three Reasons Why I Preach An Arminian Theology” by T. E. Hanna (Guest Post)

I think it is fair to say that our contemporary Christian subculture is saturated in a Reformed theology.

This isn’t necessarily bad. Many of these voices hail from brilliant scholars whose knowledge and wisdom adds powerful depth and vibrancy to our understanding of God and scripture. D. A. Carson’s commentary on the New Testament use of the Hebrew Scriptures, for example, is always within reach when I dig through one of Paul’s epistles. The cultural reflections of The Gospel Coalition provide ready handles for grabbing hold of contemporary issues and thinking through them from a Christian perspective. Tim Challies has a powerful gift for breaking down complex theological ideas into easily accessible concepts. These voices add something of value to our modern Christian landscape.

At the same time, the sweeping move within Western Christianity to adopt a theological lens rooted in Calvinism means that other pieces of the puzzle — important pieces —are either left behind or left wanting.

As a pastor, I have found that proclaiming an Arminian theology to my congregation has become increasingly important amidst the growing influence of Reformed theology. Not only does Arminianism staunchly defend the character of a good and loving God, but it also retains the power of the Christian hope. In a world where hope is challenged by the repeated barrage of the suffering we see in the media, the beauty of the Christian message is sorely needed.

An Arminian understanding retains this hope, and it does so on three levels.

1. Hope For Our World

Rather than a marked selection of individuals chosen by God to one day leave earth behind and step into a heavenly kingdom, Arminianism presents a God whose kingdom is invading our world even as we speak. This is part of the glory of Christianity — that when Jesus arose from the waters of His baptism proclaiming that “the kingdom of God is at hand”, He meant what He said. Our world is a broken place, afflicted with the realities of suffering and pain, but the Spirit that hovered over the waters in Genesis 1 still broods over His creation. What we find is a hope for the present, a restoration that begins now, and a God who invites us into the midst of His work.

2. Hope For Our Communities

The Reformed doctrine of Unconditional Election paints a stark picture when faced with those who do not yet know Christ. If God chooses some for salvation and not others, the parallel implication is that He thus rejects some and not others. Hope languishes in the face of an unchanging God that has chosen to reject from salvation some of the very people we have come to love. An Arminian perspective addresses this, however, removing that rejection from God and placing it where it belongs: in the human heart. The beauty of this is that such a rejection is not yet final. While God is unchanging, we are not. God is still working, still extending His grace, still inviting our friends and family to respond to His love. This imparts to us a responsibility to make that love known, but it also fills us with hope in knowing that just as He wooed us, so is He wooing them. They, too, have the opportunity to respond to the grace that He so lovingly extends to all.

3. Hope For Ourselves

Perhaps the most beautiful aspect of Arminian theology is found in the broader concept of salvation. To us, salvation is so much more than those slated for heaven and those abandoned to hell. Instead, salvation is about life — abundant life — that begins here and extends forth into eternity. What we are being rescued from is not just eternal condemnation, but sin itself. Sin, left unchecked, will ultimately consume and destroy us. The beauty of grace, however, is that these chains are slowly being stripped from our soul. This is the image of sanctification to which we cling: that we are progressively being freed from those very things which rob us of our own humanity. Freedom does not wait until the kingdom of God is manifested in the eschaton. It begins now, transforming and shaping us, and leading us on into the eternity where our glorious hope shall finally be viewed in full.

This is why I preach an Arminian theology. It is not only because I hold it to be true, but because I believe it to be necessary. In an era where the objects of our hope are challenged on a daily basis, we need to be reminded that God is still here. He is still working. He is still restoring. He is still loving and extending His grace.

It is in his grace where our hope finds wings.

T E Hanna is the author of Raising Ephesus: Christian Hope for a Post-Christian Age, and he writes regularly on issues of faith and culture on his blog at OfDustAndKings.com.

 

 

"Thank you for that helpful correction; I had forgotten about McGrath's degree in science. Another ..."

Thinking of Creation with Imagination
"Thanks for that, Bev. Science without ethics is dangerous and ethics without transcendence is relative ..."

Thinking of Creation with Imagination
"Many on my side of the boat seem to want some sort of proof, some ..."

Thinking of Creation with Imagination
"Bev,My beef with evolution is that it depends a lot on philosophy.For theistic evolution, the ..."

Thinking of Creation with Imagination

Browse Our Archives



What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • TerryJames

    Thank you for this. I always come back to what we know of Jesus while he ministered on earth. I cannot find an unconditional election message in his words or actions. But I can find love and a message to everyone one to, “come unto me.”

    I’ve come to the conclusion that one can find Reformed theology in scripture, but it’s not necessary. The scriptures can be understood in a way that is much more in line with the record we have of Jesus and all that he did.

  • Ivan A. Rogers

    Both Arminianism and Calvinism have a glaring fault. Each teaches that the atonement of Christ was meant to be “limited” to this world and this life only. In other words, they teach, if one dies without obtaining God’s salvific grace in this present world, then, it is impossible to obtain God’s grace in the world to come.
    But, yet, it is written: Hebrews 9:22-24 (NASB) — “And according to the Law, one may almost say, ALL THINGS are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. Therefore it was necessary for the copies of the things in the heavens to be cleansed with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ [the Great High Priest] did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, BUT INTO HEAVEN ITSELF, now to appear in the presence of God for us…” (see also Heb 8:1-13).

  • Todd

    Point 2’s parallel implication is flawed. God rejects no one. He does not reject them – because they never come to Him to be rejected.

  • Simple Man

    The guest writer has a VERY poor understanding of Calvinism.

  • kertime

    Thanks Roger for sharing your space with T E Hanna… appreciated his comments, loved that last sentence, and am now a’lighting and a’lurking at his blog.

  • gingoro

    “To us, salvation is so much more than those slated for heaven and those abandoned to hell.”
    I fail to see anything in the paragraph containing the above sentence that would also not be affirmed in our calvinist (CRC) church. Maybe what you say is true of the YRR crowd but I never hear their representatives at our church. I would agree that in some churches what you describe is true that salvation is mainly fire insurance but lots of calvinists see it as much much more.
    DaveW

  • http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/ Lothar Lorraine

    Amen!

    I have one question: could you tell me if the following reasoning is valid:

    1) the devil is the father of lie

    2) according to Calvinism, God predetermined the devil to become what he is

    3) thus according to Calvinism, God is the Father of lie.

    For some people, this might be a further reason to reject reformed theology.

    • Roger Olson

      I have never heard or read any Calvinist say that God predetermined the devil to become what he is. At these pressure points they always fall back on “divine permission.” The question is whether that’s permitted given their strong view of God’s all-determining providence. The issue, IMHO, isn’t whether God “predetermined” Satan’s fall (and ours) but whether these are part of God’s foreordained plan such that he rendered them certain intentionally or whether he plans FOR them but does not “design, ordain and govern them” (to use John Piper’s language for God’s sovereignty in all things).