Arminianism FAQ 3 (Everything You Always Wanted to Know…)

Arminianism FAQ 3 (Everything You Always Wanted to Know…) July 9, 2014

FAQ: Doesn’t Arminianism lead to open theism? A: Open theists and Calvinists both think so, but classical Arminianism don’t think so. According to classical Arminianism, God knows the future exhaustively–as already settled in his own mind although not already determined. How God can know future free decisions and actions (ones not already determined by anything) is a mystery classical Arminians are willing to live with because they believe it (divine simple foreknowledge without comprehensive divine determinism) is taught in Scripture and because it is the only alternative to other views of God’s foreknowledge they (classical Arminians) cannot embrace. There is no logical contradiction in this mystery. Every theology includes mysteries at some points. So do the natural sciences.

FAQ: Can an Arminian resolve the mystery of divine foreknowledge with Molinism? A: Some classical Arminians think so. Others do not. Two unsettled questions bedevil this intra-Arminian debate. First is a philosophical one: Is “counterfactual of libertarian freedom a viable concept?” Second is a theological one: “Can God make use of middle knowledge (assuming he has such knowledge) in arranging human affairs without determining them?” Classical Arminians are  divided about these questions and their answer

FAQ: Doesn’t Arminianism  imply that the “decisive element in salvation” is the sinner’s free decision to accept Christ, thereby giving saved persons permission to boast of partially meriting their salvation? A: No. Under no circumstances would a person freely receiving a free gift be thought to have merited it simply because he/she accepted it. A gift received is still a gift. Everyone knows this. The only exception is Calvinists who accuse Arminianism of importing merit into the free acceptance of salvation. But those same Calvinists would never allow someone to whom they gave a gift to claim they merited it.

FAQ: Doesn’t Arminianism lead to liberalism in theology? A: No more than Calvinism does. Friedrich Schleiermacher, the “father of liberal theology,” was a Calvinist who became liberal without ever embracing Arminianism. Many, perhaps most, 19th century liberals (in theology) were raised Calvinist and, seeing the damage it does to God’s character, jumped into liberal theology without ever even considering Arminianism.    Evangelical Arminianism is conservative theologically. Some evangelical Arminians are fundamentalists. Most have never been tempted by liberal theology. There is no logical or historical connection between classical Arminianism and liberal theology.

FAQ: Is the first principle of Arminianism free will? A: It is not. The first principle is God revealed in Jesus Christ or, put another way, Jesus Christ as the full and perfect revelation of the character of God. Arminians only believe in libertarian free will (power of contrary choice) because 1) It is implied throughout Scripture, 2) It alone preserves God from being monstrous, and 3) It is an experienced reality necessary for responsibility. One might add that it (libertarian free will) was assumed by all the church fathers before Augustine.

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