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Wesley on Arminianism #13770
Thu Apr 15, 2004 3:25 AM
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I recently found something written by John Wesley, that I wouldn't mind getting some comments on.
Particularly number 6. about the first two charges.

The Question, "What Is an Arminian?" Answered by a Lover of Free Grace
By John Wesley

1. To say, "This man is an Arminian," has the same effect on many hearers, as to say, "This is a mad dog." It puts them into a fright at once: They run away from him with all speed and diligence; and will hardly stop, unless it be to throw a stone at the dreadful and mischievous animal.

2. The more unintelligible the word is, the better it answers the purpose. Those on whom it is fixed know not what to do: Not understanding what it means, they cannot tell what defence to make, or how to clear themselves from the charge. And it is not easy to remove the prejudice which others have imbibed, who know no more of it, than that it is "something very bad," if not "all that is bad!"

3. To clear the meaning, therefore, of this ambiguous term, may be of use to many: To those who so freely pin this name upon others, that they may not say what they do not understand; to those that hear them, that they may be no longer abused by men saying they know not what; and to those upon whom the name is fixed, that they may know how to answer for themselves.

4. It may be necessary to observe, First, that many confound Arminians with Arians. But this is entirely a different thing; the one has no resemblance to the other. An Arian is one who denies the Godhead of Christ; we scarce need say, the supreme, eternal Godhead; because there can be no God but the supreme, eternal God, unless we will make two Gods, a great God and a little one. Now, none have ever more firmly believed, or more strongly asserted, the Godhead of Christ, than many of the (so called) Arminians have done; yea, and do at this day. Arminianism therefore (whatever it be) is totally different from Arianism.

5. The rise of the word was this: JAMES HARMENS, in Latin, Jacobes Arminius, was first one of the Ministers of Amsterdam, and afterwards Professor of Divinity at Leyden. He was educated at Geneva; but in the year 1591 began to doubt of the principles which he had till then received. And being more and more convinced that they were wrong, when he was vested with the Professorship, he publicly taught what he believed the truth, till, in the year 1609, he died in peace. But a few years after his death, some zealous men with the Prince of Orange at their head, furiously assaulted all that held what were called his opinions; and having procured them to be solemnly condemned, in the famous Synod of Dort, (not so numerous or learned, but full as impartial, as the Council or Synod of Trent,) some were put to death, some banished, some imprisoned for life, all turned out of their employments, and made incapable of holding any office, either in Church or State.

6. The errors charged upon these (usually termed Arminians) by their opponents, are five: (1.) That they deny original sin; (2.) That they deny justification by faith; (3.) That they deny absolute predestination; (4.) That they deny the grace of God to be irresistible; and, (5.) That they affirm, a believer may fall from grace.

With regard to the two first of these charges, they plead, Not Guilty. They are entirely false. No man that ever lived, not John Calvin himself, ever asserted either original sin, or justification by faith, in more strong, more clear and express terms, than Arminius has done. These two points, therefore, are to be set out of the question: In these both parties agree. In this respect, there is not a hair's breadth difference between Mr. Wesley and Mr. Whitefield.

7. But there is an undeniable difference between the Calvinists and Arminians, with regard to the three other questions. Here they divide; the former believe absolute, the latter only conditional, predestination. The Calvinists hold, (1.) God has absolutely decreed, from all eternity, to save such and such persons, and no others; and that Christ died for these, and none else. The Arminians hold, God has decreed, from all eternity, touching all that have the written word, "He that believeth shall be saved: He that believeth not, shall be condemned:" And in order to this, "Christ died for all, all that were dead in trespasses and sins;" that is, for every child of Adam, since "in Adam all died."

8. The Calvinists hold, Secondly, that the saving grace of God is absolutely irresistible; that no man is any more able to resist it, than to resist the stroke of lightning. The Arminians hold, that although there may be some moments wherein the grace of God acts irresistibly, yet, in general, any man may resist, and that to his eternal ruin, the grace whereby it was the will of God he should have been eternally saved.

9. The Calvinists hold, Thirdly, that a true believer in Christ cannot possibly fall from grace. The Arminians hold, that a true believer may "make shipwreck of faith and a good conscience;" that he may fall, not only foully, but finally, so as to perish for ever.

10. Indeed, the two latter points, irresistible grace and infallible perseverance, are the natural consequence of the former, of the unconditional decree. For if God has eternally and absolutely decreed to save such and such persons, it follows, both that they cannot resist his saving grace, (else they might miss of salvation,) and that they cannot finally fall from that grace which they cannot resist. So that, in effect, the three questions come into one, "Is predestination absolute or conditional?" The Arminians believe, it is conditional; the Calvinists, that it is absolute.

11. Away, then, with all ambiguity! Away with all expressions which only puzzle the cause! Let honest men speak out, and not play with hard words which they do not understand. And how can any man know what Arminius held, who has never read one page of his writings? Let no man bawl against Arminians, till he knows what the term means; and then he will know that Arminians and Calvinists are just upon a level. And Arminians have as much right to be angry at Calvinists, as Calvinists have to be angry at Arminians. John Calvin was a pious, learned, sensible man; and so was James Harmens. Many Calvinists are pious, learned, sensible men; and so are many Arminians. Only the former hold absolute predestination; the latter, conditional.

12. One word more: Is it not the duty of every Arminian Preacher, First, never, in public or in private, to use the word Calvinist as a term of reproach; seeing it is neither better nor worse than calling names? -- a practice no more consistent with good sense or good manners, than it is with Christianity. Secondly. To do all that in him lies to prevent his hearers from doing it, by showing them the sin and folly of it? And is it not equally the duty of every Calvinist Preacher, First, never in public or in private, in preaching or in conversation, to use the word Arminian as a term of reproach? Secondly. To do all that in him lies to prevent his hearers from doing it, by showing them the sin and folly thereof; and that the more earnestly and diligently, if they have been accustomed so to do? perhaps encouraged therein by his own example!

Re: Wesley on Arminianism [Re: Tom] #13771
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Briefly, Arminians do not deny original sin they just deny the total extent of original sin--think of being sick instead of being dead....Sometimes Wesley may surprise you. Consider this sermon: ORIGINAL SIN


Reformed and Always Reforming,
Re: Wesley on Arminianism [Re: J_Edwards] #13772
Thu Apr 15, 2004 5:40 AM
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But in effect are they still talking about the same thing. I mean even though both an Arminian and and Calvinist would affirm original sin is the definition that each one attaches to the meaning of the term "orginal sin" the same? I'm not saying this to make a point, I'm actually asking. So maybe I should ask this question, "In the reformed definition of original sin is the extent of the sin part of the definition of original sin or is the extent to which original sin reaches dealt with by another term?"

John

Re: Wesley on Arminianism [Re: john] #13773
Thu Apr 15, 2004 6:00 AM
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The differences are immense between what is normally described as Arminianism and Calvinism. I say normal as with anything else there are modifications to thoughts, etc.

If one is merely sick and not dead (Arminianism) then he is alive to some extent to assist in his own salvation. Calvinism differs in seeing that the man is totally dead and must first be made alive so he may respond irresistibly to Christ. Thus, Arminianism grants some ability of the person to respond prior to regeneration while the Calvinist says it is by “grace alone.”

Think of Lazarus. He was dead in a grave. He was unable of his own will, strength, etc to respond to anything. Christ called him specifically—“Lazarus come forth”…not just “come forth,” but “Lazarus come forth” as these words of life would have risen the whole of the grave yard (a picture of election). Lazarus was made alive and then he came forth. There is a process that takes place: (1) life given (2) faith given—it is a gift (Eph 2:8-9) (3) faith coming forth (our response from darkness to light). It was not that we are just very sick, but that we are actually dead in trespasses and sin (Ephesians 2:1).

For more please read: The Reformed Faith and Arminianism

Re: Wesley on Arminianism [Re: J_Edwards] #13774
Thu Apr 15, 2004 6:12 AM
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Joe,

I agree 100% with you about the difference between Calvinism and Arminiasm being immense and that Arminianism is the one in error. But I'm not sure if it answers my original question. Let me try to restate it a little bit better.

If the definition of original sin only includes the fact that Adam's sin is imputed to us, then it's possible that both an Arminian and a Calvinist can agree on this fact. In this case, the extent that the sin affects a person may be dealt with another term such as "Total Depravity". It would then be the term "Total Depravity" that the two would disagree on. If on the other hand, however, the reformed definition of original sin includes both the idea of Adam's orginal sin being imputed to all men and the idea that this sin completely affects all aspects of their being so that they are spiritually dead, then, in this case, an Arminian and a Calvinist could not agree because they have different definitions of what original sin means.

It seems that from your response that your definition of "original sin" includes both facts. That was what my question was asking.

John

Re: Wesley on Arminianism [Re: J_Edwards] #13775
Thu Apr 15, 2004 6:43 AM
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Arminians do not deny original sin they just deny the total extent of original sin


(Fred) Actually, Reformed Arminianism, the Arminianism of Jacob Arminius and his earlier followers and proclaimed by Wesley and his original followers, affirm the complete extent of total depravity, at least in the technical sense of the definition. They would affirm practically the same definition as the Calvinist. In order to get around the problem of man's will also being bound in sin and unable to decide for the gospel, they introduce the error of prevenient grace: God's grace that gives the ability for the sinner to understand the gospel, believe in faith, and then be fully regenerated.

Fred


"Ah, sitting - the great leveler of men. From the mightest of pharaohs to the lowest of peasants, who doesn't enjoy a good sit?" M. Burns
Re: Wesley on Arminianism [Re: john] #13776
Thu Apr 15, 2004 8:47 AM
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IMHO the WCF answers this:

Of the Fall of Man, of Sin, and of the Punishment Thereof

I. Our first parents, being seduced by the subtlety and temptation of Satan, sinned, in eating the forbidden fruit. This their sin, God was pleased, according to his wise and holy counsel, to permit, having purposed to order it to his own glory.

II. By this sin they fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and so became dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the parts and faculties of soul and body.

III. They being the root of all mankind, the guilt of this sin was imputed; and the same death in sin, and corrupted nature, conveyed to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation.

IV. From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions.

V. This corruption of nature, during this life, doth remain in those that are regenerated; and although it be, through Christ, pardoned, and mortified; yet both itself, and all the motions thereof, are truly and properly sin.

VI. Every sin, both original and actual, being a transgression of the righteous law of God, and contrary thereunto, doth, in its own nature, bring guilt upon the sinner, whereby he is bound over to the wrath of God, and curse of the law, and so made subject to death, with all miseries spiritual, temporal, and eternal.


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Re: Wesley on Arminianism [Re: J_Edwards] #13777
Thu Apr 15, 2004 9:58 AM
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Quote
Joe said:
Briefly, Arminians do not deny original sin they just deny the total extent of original sin--think of being sick instead of being dead....Sometimes Wesley may surprise you. Consider this sermon: ORIGINAL SIN


Hi Joe. While Wesleyans do not deny the doctrine of original sin, they certainly define it differently than do Westminster Calvinists. We maintain that original sin includes the corruption of our whole nature. Wesleyans, on the other hand, specifically deny that corruption extends to the will, do they not?

Re: Wesley on Arminianism [Re: Tom] #13778
Thu Apr 15, 2004 10:52 AM
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12. One word more: Is it not the duty of every Arminian Preacher, First, never, in public or in private, to use the word Calvinist as a term of reproach; seeing it is neither better nor worse than calling names? -- a practice no more consistent with good sense or good manners, than it is with Christianity. Secondly. To do all that in him lies to prevent his hearers from doing it, by showing them the sin and folly of it? And is it not equally the duty of every Calvinist Preacher, First, never in public or in private, in preaching or in conversation, to use the word Arminian as a term of reproach? Secondly. To do all that in him lies to prevent his hearers from doing it, by showing them the sin and folly thereof; and that the more earnestly and diligently, if they have been accustomed so to do? perhaps encouraged therein by his own example!


I thought that this was an interesting, albeit convicting, thought right here. While I believe that it is in the Christian's best interest, and in fact his duty, to correct error and to point out the errors in theological thought, I think we play the name calling game more often than point out error. We are quick to call people heretics if they don't hold to our way of believing and our way of seeing and saying things (when I say "we" I am speaking to Christians, not just reformed people or the people on this board).

I think that, despite my disagreements with Wesley, that he has a very good point here. Going up to an unsaved person and saying, "You damned pagan!" doesn't accomplish anything but to make them mad. And when correcting someone of error, calling them a heretic or whatever other name we can dig up to throw at them won't make them change their mind.

And I think that Wesley is right in asserting that it is our duty as preachers/pastors to help our people to see the futility in name calling. I think that this is something that is neglected from behind the pulpit. We tell our people "Don't be gay" or "Stop smoking those cigarettes" or "Stop getting drunk" but we don't call out to our people and say "Stop gossipping" or "Stop calling names" or "Stop being arrogant".

Jesus called out hypocrisy as He saw it, but I also think that He was able to do so with love. Afterall, most of the time when He called people out, they didn't realize they'dbeen called out until they were walking away. But just calling someone a "damned pagan papist lover" is not going to help matters at all and will in fact just turn people off to what we have to say.

I am challenged to make some changes in my life because of this. I hope that others are as well.

Re: Wesley on Arminianism [Re: J_Edwards] #13779
Thu Apr 15, 2004 11:31 AM
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Joe

I am going to have to read that article when I have more time.
But why I asked for comments on that particular section is because Wesley said that on the doctrine of original sin, he believed the same as Calvinists like Whitefield.
If that were true, he would agree with the told extent of original sin.

Tom

Re: Wesley on Arminianism [Re: Tom] #13780
Thu Apr 15, 2004 12:15 PM
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Tom,

Since the charges laid mentioned the decisions set forth by the "Synod of Dordtrect" (1618-1619), albeit in an inaccurate way, it is only right that any answer to these things include what the "Canons" actually say. Let's not forget the salient point, that the Synod took place to consider a Remonstrance issued by the followers of Arminius. It is THEY who began the process which led to the Synod and all the deliberations which took place over a period of 18 months. This was not a quick, down and dirty one-hour meeting where a bunch of nasty Hollanders punished a bunch of Arminians.

The relevant portion of the Canons is found here in the "Third And Fourth Head of Doctrine", (yes the order was changed later to produce the now infamous "TULIP").

The question must also be answered as to what extent Wesley adhered to the statements of the Remonstrance in the matter of the effects of the Fall.

Most salient to this discussion, which also includes the remarks made by Fred, re: prevenient grace, etc., are dealt with in these two sections of the Rejections:

[color:"red"]Rejection 4[/color]


That the unregenerate man is not really nor utterly dead in sin, nor destitute of all powers unto spiritual good, but that he can yet hunger and thirst after righteousness and life, and offer the sacrifice of a contrite and broken spirit, which is pleasing to God. For these are contrary to the express testimony of Scripture. "Who were dead in trespasses and sins"; "Even when we were dead in sins" (Eph. 2:1, 5); and: "every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Gen. 6:5); "for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth" (Gen. 8:21). Moreover, to hunger and thirst after deliverance from misery, and after life, and to offer unto God the sacrifice of a broken spirit, is peculiar to the regenerate and those that are called blessed. "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me"; "Then shalt Thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon Thine altar" (Ps. 51:10, 19); "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled" (Matt. 5:6).

[color:"red"]Rejection 5[/color]


That the corrupt and natural man can so well use the common grace (by which they understand the light of nature), or the gifts still left him after the fall, that he can gradually gain by their good use a greater, namely, the evangelical or saving grace and salvation itself. And that in this way God on His part shows Himself ready to reveal Christ unto all men, since He applies to all sufficiently and efficiently the means necessary to conversion. For the experience of all ages and the Scriptures do both testify that this is untrue. "He sheweth His word unto Jacob, His statutes and His judgments unto Israel. He hath not dealt so with any nation: and as for His judgments, they have not known them" (Ps. 147:19, 20). "Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways" (Acts 14:16). And: "Now when they (Paul and his companions) had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, after they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not" (Acts 16:6, 7).



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Re: Wesley on Arminianism #13781
Thu Apr 15, 2004 1:21 PM
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That is the way I understand it and attempted to demonstrate in my example...


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Re: Wesley on Arminianism [Re: J_Edwards] #13782
Thu Apr 15, 2004 1:30 PM
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Yep. I was just adding the faculty of the soul that Wesleyans deny to be fallen.

Re: Wesley on Arminianism [Re: Pilgrim] #13783
Thu Apr 15, 2004 2:04 PM
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Would I be correct to say then that Wesley is wrong when he said that Arminians like him believed in 'original sin' in the same manner that people like Whitefield did?

If so, then that point is still valid, despite his claim other wise.

Tom

Re: Wesley on Arminianism [Re: Tom] #13784
Thu Apr 15, 2004 2:48 PM
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Tom said:
Pilgrim

Would I be correct to say then that Wesley is wrong when he said that Arminians like him believed in 'original sin' in the same manner that people like Whitefield did?

If so, then that point is still valid, despite his claim other wise.

Tom

What I tried to do Tom, was point out that the original formulation of the Arminians as to the doctrine of Original Sin; i.e., the noetic effects of the Fall are contrary to the Scriptures and they were at variance with the doctrine as held by nearly all of the churches which came out of the Protestant Reformation. I also said that what remains to be proven is if Wesley was in agreement with the Remonstrance in regard to this doctrine or if he held to something other. What is true, is that Wesley's theological system was logically inconsistent IF he held to the doctrine of Original Sin as it is set forth by the "Canons of Dordtrect". For he adamantly denied the doctrine of sovereign predestination and election.

Now, if he held to the biblical doctrine of Original Sin, then of necessity, one MUST hold to Unconditional Election. For there would be no other possible way that man could even have an interest in Christ apart from regeneration, never mind salvation. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />

So, why don't you find some valid statements made by Wesley that speak directly to his views on Original Sin and then we will be able to judge whether his doctrine was the same as held by Whitefield. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

You have at your disposal a little thing called [Linked Image] . And should you avail yourself of it, surely you can find what you are looking for.

In His Grace,


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