Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Second Sunday in Lent.

The Collect

ALMIGHTY God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Collect from the First Day of Lent is to be read every day in Lent after the Collect appointed for the Day.

Daily Bible Verse

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Does Arminianism Teach the Gospel?

Does Arminianism Teach the Gospel? An Assessment of Evangelical Ecumenicalism

Not too long ago Dr. Michael Horton initiated a teaching series called “Christless Christianity”, in which he made the vague assertion that many of the churches in Evangelicalism are actually pelagian rather than Christian. His critique of the church growth movement, Joel Osteen, and many of the television evangelists was well received by most of the Reformed Evangelicals and neo-Calvinists. But is Mike Horton and the White Horse Inn consistent in its accusation that Evangelicalism is infected with pelagianism? That is a matter that is questionable as this article will briefly examine.

First of all, it should be noted that pelagianism as defined by Horton is something along the lines of Charles Finney's theology which denies total depravity, the bondage of the will, and even a Wesleyan Arminian definition of depravity. But is this a sufficient definition of pelagianism? I think not. In fact, the semi-pelagian position is nothing more than pelagianism disguised in a more subtle form. The Wesleyan doctrine of prevenient grace in effect cancels out the doctrine of depravity and defaults back to pelagianism since the deciding factor is not God's irresistible grace but rather “libertarian free will”. In short, the Arminian rationalism defaults to a pelagian definition of “free will”. The famous hymn, “O For a Thousand Tongues”, written by Charles Wesley includes these lines:

He breaks the power of canceled sin,
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean,
His blood availed for me.

He speaks, and, listening to His voice,
New life the dead receive,
The mournful, broken hearts rejoice,
The humble poor believe.

Hear Him, ye deaf; His praise, ye dumb,
Your loosened tongues employ;
Ye blind, behold your Savior come,
And leap, ye lame, for joy.

Wesley is not referring to a Calvinist view of “canceled sin” as in a post conversion reversal of the bondage of the will that hinders or prevents the elect from becoming a Christian. No, for Wesley “canceled sin” refers to a general grace given to all mankind so that man is no longer in bondage to sin but only has a “bent toward sinning” that can easily be overcome by the will simply by believing the Gospel in one's own strength and obedience. For Wesley the deaf can make themselves hear and the dead can raise themselves from the grave. The lame can make themselves walk again and prisoners set themselves free by their own free will. But is this what the Bible teaches? 

To give a sampling of the Scriptures on this issue let's take a look at just a few verses in particular:

Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Then may you also do good who are accustomed to do evil. (Jeremiah 13:23 NKJ)
Why should you be stricken again? You will revolt more and more. The whole head is sick, And the whole heart faints. (Isaiah 1:5 NKJ)
For though you wash yourself with lye, and use much soap, Yet your iniquity is marked before Me," says the Lord GOD. (Jeremiah 2:22 NKJ)
Who can say, "I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin "? (Proverbs 20:9 NKJ)

In short, Wesleyan Arminianism and other forms of Arminianism are nothing more than pelagianism masquerading as biblical Christianity. The Wesleys understood that Arminianism and Calvinism were mutually exclusive gospels and this is precisely why they vociferously attacked Augustus Toplady and other consistent Calvinists in the Church of England during the Second Great Awakening. It is on this point that the Calvinist, George Whitefield, was inconsistent and allowed his friendship with the Wesleys to cloud his judgment and his thinking on this issue. The fact of the matter is that pelagianism and augustinianism are mutually exclusive theologies. This battle between the Gospel of sovereign grace and the gospel of libertarian free will goes all the way back to the fourth century.

What I am saying is that Mike Horton is inconsistent when he invites Arminians like William Willimon to his radio program, The White Horse Inn. Horton also has high praise for the Arminian heretic, Thomas Oden. The problem with Horton and other neo-Calvinists is that they use their Calvinism as a cloak for what is really nothing more than lip service to Calvinism. Horton and other neo-Calvinists are really advocates of irrationalism to the point that there really is no logical consistency in their theology and they have essentially sold out to postmodernism, neo-orthodoxy, and a theology of paradox. In such thinking there is no need for non-contradiction or propositional truth since all that matters is one's subjective experience of what God is doing. In other words, it is God's acts in history rather than God's very words in Holy Scripture that matters most. That is neo-orthodoxy in a nutshell.

It is truly ironic that Horton would advocate a movement toward theological orthodoxy and attack pelagianism in the Evangelical movement when he himself has openly endorsed pelagianism via his approval of Arminianism and even Anglo-Catholic denominations like the Anglican Church in North America. If Arminianism is a damnable heresy as the Canons of Dort clearly indicate, then how can Horton blatantly ignore the doctrinal standards of his own denomination, which standards are the Three Forms of Unity: Belgic Confession, Heidelberg Catechism, Canons of Dort?

Good question!

Sincerely in Christ,

Charlie J. Ray

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

All this NuKalvinist compromise makes me ill. Anymore I scarcely read or listen to anyone who isn't either dead or explicitly opposed to the errors so prevalent in today's so-called "Calvinist" circles. Shame what passes for orthodox these days, provided it's taught by a sincere-sounding "Reformed" pastor/theologian with a natty wardrobe and lots of alphabet soup after his name.

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