FAQ: How does Arminianism explain Romans 9? A: This is without doubt one of the most asked questions by hard core Calvinists, but even many Arminians want to know as they have always only heard the Calvinist interpretation of Roman 9. First, it’s important to pay attention to the fact that Romans 9 was never interpreted as teaching unconditional double predestination to salvation and damnation before Augustine in the early fifth century. For four centuries Christians read the New Testament including Romans 9 and never came up with that interpretation. Second, it’s important to read Romans 9 in context–Romans 9 through 11 is a “thought chunk.” The chapter divisions were not in the original autographs. Nobody would have read Romans 9 and stopped there. Romans 10 and 11 complete the argument and show that Paul was not talking about individuals and their salvation (or not) but about groups and service in his plan. Arminian interpretations of Romans 9-11 are not hard to find. Look into that section of the Society of Evangelical Arminians’ web site (www.arminianevangelicals.org). There you will find essays and lists of commentaries. But, for me, what is more important is what Wesley said about the Calvinist interpretation of Romans 9: “Whatever it means it can’t mean that!” He was not merely brushing it aside. He meant (and I agree) that IF the Calvinist interpretation of Romans 9 is true, then God is a moral monster, an arbitrary damner, not in any way like Jesus Christ who wept over Jerusalem and said “I would…but you would not.”
FAQ: Why are there no Arminian spokespersons, great preachers, leaders, like John Piper, John McArthur, R. C. Sproul, Matt Chandler, et al.? A: This isn’t really a question about Arminianism as a belief system; it is a question about a passing cultural fad. About thirty years ago this question would have been asked about Bill Gothard and non-Garthardites. “Why do the non-Gothardites” not have any influential spokesmen like Gothard? Gothard ad his Basic Youth Conflicts Seminar movement erupted among evangelicals like a Mount St. Helen’s and then all but died away. Whenever an unusual, strange (even if very old) message is proclaimed loudly and often by one or two or three extremely persuasive proclaimers, it gains a following. That doesn’t say anything about the alternatives–that they do not rise to meet the new messsage/movement with equal fervor and passion. Usually, the new message/movement is extreme and proclaimed by extremists. They gain a following–mostly composed of people attracted to extremes. After a while the extremism dies down and the movement matures and the rough edges and corners are shaved off. All the time the majority around the “new message/movement” are going on with ministry avoiding the extreme. But the media loves extremes, so the extremists get all the attention–by being extreme! I consider it a good thing that few Arminians have become loud absolutists to match the leaders of the Young, Restless, Reformed Movement most of whom are (in my opinion) fundamentalists.