I made an observation recently that may be completely off base, or it may just betray the reality of the tight Evangelical circles in which I travel most of the time. Either way, here it is:

Calvinists have  a corner on theologically-themed conferences. Arminians have apologetically-themed conferences. Leadership conferences don’t do theology.

Is this true? It seems true from my standpoint. Think about the major conferences out there that are theological in nature: Desiring God, Together for the Gospel, The Gospel Coalition, and Ligonier Ministries. All of them fill churches and arenas with thousands of people. Passion fills the air as speakers talk about theological issues in the church. John Piper, Don Carson, R.C. Sproul, John MacArthur, Albert Mohler, Tim Keller, and the like are invited to speak. Diversity runs deep in these theology conferences. Dispensationalist and Covenant Theologians, paedobaptists and credo baptists, charismatics and non-charismatics, and premillenialists and amillenialists are all represented. However, it is hard to find an Arminian invited to (much less putting together) such engagements. Why? I don’t know, but I suspect that it is because Arminianism, as a theological distinctive, just does not preach. Don’t get me wrong. I did not say that Arminians can’t preach. They most certainly can. And I did not say that Arminianism is not true (This is not the question on the table). It is simply that the distinctives of Arminianism do not sell in such settings. Evangelicals love to hear about the sovereignty of God, the glory of God in suffering, the security of God’s grace, the providence of God over missions, and yes, even the utter depravity of man. This stuff preaches. This stuff sells tickets.

For the Arminian to put together a distinctive conference, things would be a bit less provocative. Things like “The Responsibility of Man in Suffering,” “Man’s Role in Salvation,” or “The Insecurity of Salvation” won’t preach too well. Think about how hard it is for a Calvinist to try to plug in a token Arminian at a general theology conference. On what subject do you let them speak? “Roger Olson, I would like you to come to our conference and speak on . . . (papers ruffling) . . . ummm  . . . (papers ruffling more) . . . Do you do anything in apologetics (except suffering)?”

Of course, there was the John 3:16 conference, which was Arminian. But that was not a general theology conference. It was a specific conference which amounted to a polemic against Calvinism. During the conference, the speakers simply countered all five points of Calvinism. This is symptomatic of so much of the Arminian distinctives with regard to their message. Much of the time Arminianism is simply seen as “Against Calvinism,” whereas Calvinism is more affirmatively focused on the sovereignty of God. Even the latest books published on the subject betray such a reality: For Calvinism by Michael Horton and Against Calvinism by Roger Olson.  I think one can find this same general approach in the theological blogosphere. Calvinists have something they are for, while Arminians are always on the defensive, fighting what they are against. Finally, as far as I know, the John 3:16 conference only happened once (in 2008). That it, or anything like it, has not been renewed or rebooted may serve to prove my observation.

Now, apologetics seems to be a different story. Not only to do you have Arminians filling the pulpit when it comes to defending the faith, they seem to dominate. William Lane Craig, J.P. Moreland, Paul Copan, Norman Geisler, and Gary Habermas are all on the roster. It is “Team Biola.” This is not to say that Calvinists don’t do apologetics.  However, they normally do so in a less “evidentialist” style that just won’t teach. Have you ever tried to teach people to defend the faith using presuppositional and transcendental arguments? Enough said. The simple observation I am making is that apologetics is heavily dominated by Arminians today. However, I don’t think there is anything distinctive about Arminianism which would make them more equipped to hold apologetics conferences. Perhaps, the focus on the free will of man makes the whole apologetics enterprise more necessary and effective in Arminianism.  Theoretically, Calvinists, because of their compatibleness (holding the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man in tension), could teach evidentiary apologetics just as truly as an Arminian. “Did Christ Rise from the Grave?”, “Who is Jesus?”, “Is God a Moral Monster?”, or “Responding to the New Atheists” are all topics on which Calvinists and Arminians could teach together without sacrificing their theological integrity. There may be some distinction with a topic such as “If God is Real, Why is There Evil?” But that is the only apologetic issue which I think could be an exception in this group of topics.

Leadership conferences, on the other hand, are normally very diverse. Why? In all probability, they are not very theological in nature. Stirring passion about finishing strong, leading by serving, and preparing a sermon does not require any theological commitment one way or another. However, if the leadership conference turns on men’s issues or women’s issues, the complementarian/egalitarian elephant enters the room. And, generally speaking, most complementarians are Calvinist and most egalitarians are Arminian.

That said, these observations are not timeless. They are what I see today. I think they represent the chicken or the egg question (I don’t know which comes first) to the resurgence of Calvinism in the pews today. My hypothesis is that Calvinism preaches better than Arminianism. In a confused world of suffering and pain, we want to know that God has it under control, not man. Calvinism instigates more of a dramatic change in theology than does Arminianism. We are more naturally inclined toward the Arminian idea of free will and God’s sovereignty. People normally don’t “become” Arminians. But nearly all Calvinists can tell of a passionate “conversion” experience as to how Calvinism dramatically changed their way of thinking about God. This creates incredible passion. Therefore, we invite Calvinists only to these theology conferences (even when the organization, itself, claims to be more broadly Evangelical). And people leave with a full heart. On the other hand, when we want to fight against the New Atheists, we do not need to discriminate against the finer points of theology too much. Therefore, we invite either Arminian or Calvinist apologists.

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C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. He can be contacted at [email protected]

    140 replies to "Why Arminianism Doesn’t Sell"

    • Brian LePort

      It seems a bit ironic to run off a list like “John Piper, Don Carson, R.C. Spoul, John MacArthur, Albert Mohler, Tim Keller” followed by the statement, “Diversity runs deep in these theology conferences.”

    • Jason

      So Calvinism sells because it assures people that God is in control regardless of the world falling in around their heads.

      Yes, your dog died, but it was part of God’s perfect plan for your life.

      Oh yes, you’ll never walk again, but praise Jesus, this is how he ordained it from the foundation of the Earth.

      Yes, that series of tornadoes caused massive damage and loss of life, but that is part of God’s good and perfect will for you, glory to God, amen. (ht John Piper)

      Arminians don’t really have to do anything to counter Calvinism. Calvinists do all the hard work for us.

      There is nothing that prevents Calvinists doing evidential apologetics, except for the rather obvious fact that if that person is not one of the elect then all the apologetic arguments in the world won’t make them consider Christ, and if they are elect then they’ll be converted anyway. I’d say Calvinism encourages fedeism more than anything else. After all salvation is just a mystery, right?

    • Myself, I like Roger Nicole’s so-called “acrostic”, which really emphasizes that all the so-called five-points are an articulation of the doctrine of grace:

      GRACE is:

      1. O-bligatory (that is, indispensable)
      2. S-overeign (in choice)
      3. P-articular (in redemption)
      4. E-ffectual (in operation)
      5. L-asting (that is, secure)

      He also suggested these:

      1. Radical and Pervasive Depravity
      2. Sovereign, Divine Election
      3. Definite Atonement (or Particular Redemption)
      4. Effectual, Saving Grace
      5. Perseverance of God with the Saints

      Indeed, this and these “sell” and make the doctrine of God in salvation, just that simple! And how many of us honestly can say, Amen here!

      Note, no mention of the name Calvin! Though of course I don’t mind that name or theology myself! 😉

    • Aaron

      Where would you put some of the huge conferences like Passion, Catalyst, and others?

    • @Brian LePort: I wonder if you have ever read a line of the Irish Articles 1615, for the most part by the Anglican Archbishop James Ussher? Just a friendly challenge! 🙂

      http://www.lasalle.edu/~garver/irish.html

    • Jason

      From the end of that spiel.

      “If any Minister, of what degree of quality soever he be, shall publicly teach any doctrine contrary to these Articles agreed upon, if, after due admonition he does not conform himself, and cease to disturb the peace of the Church, let him be silenced and deprived of all spiritual promotions he doth enjoy.”

      Sounds like Michael’s Calvinist conferences. God forbid there should be any disagreement in the holy huddle.

    • Roger E Olson

      I’m wondering if an Armenian could have wrote this blog? 🙂

    • Drwayman

      I suspect that the entry by Olson was not written by the Dr Olson of Baylor University. He uses proper grammar and knows how to spell Arminian correctly

    • Btw, John & Charles Wesley and the Methodists had a few conferences of their own along the way. And Calvinism was “anathema” there, certainly!

    • Jason

      “Anathema?” Or did the Calvinists just feel that God had not ordained them to be there.

    • Nick Schoeneberger

      Jason said: “Yes, your dog died, but it was part of God’s perfect plan for your life.”

      So, you’re saying that God doesn’t use suffering in our lives to sanctify us? Or is it that sanctification is a painless process? Or is it that God must reveal his purpose in each incident we perceive as negative in our lives or he is not justified in working all things to his will and glory? I’m not sure what you believe, but it doesn’t sound like the bible I endeavor to know. This is a strawman anyway – nowhere does the bible or “Calvinism” teach you that God’s promise in Romans 8:28-29 means that you’re going to get “your best life now.” That hooey is what I expect from Arminians. Working all things for the good of those who love him may just mean that you get humbled a few times as he conforms you to the image of his son.

    • Nick Schoeneberger

      Incidentally, I have a great deal of respect for the Wesleyans after I saw how they comported themselves in a debate on Calvinism against Bruce Ware and another fellow. They may have been wrongs about some non-essentials, but their love for Jesus and the gospel was as deep and passionate as any Calvinist I’ve ever met. I would submit that an evangelical Calvinist has more in common with Wesley than with most of what passes for Christianity in American churches today. Just something to bear in mind – not all non-Calvinists are equally out of the bounds of scriptural teaching.

    • Luke

      Amen to Brian in #1. Surely you were joking about “diversity” at these conferences. All of these guys are peas in the same pod.

      As for the rest, I could comment at length about quibbles with half of what you said, and I surely have a different interpretation of the data than you. However, I won’t bore you and don’t have the time now. But I will say that I lean closer toward Arminianism, and I could care less about theological tribes and labels. Perhaps most people you would call “Arminians” are like me, and we don’t have to go to our annual conferences to rally the troops & evangelize for secondary and tertiary matters and call them the “gospel.” Perhaps guys & gals like me are grinding it out every week at their local churches and serving the community, trying to make small differences in the lives of others and trying to be a consistent witness to the gospel, without having to get our annual fix from our celebrity idols at myopic & borderline fundamentalist conferences…

    • I guess you did not read this correctly? The Wesleyan Methodists had their conferences that “anathematized” the doctrine of the Calvinist’s! So this swings both ways, sadly! Though GOD is a “Calvinist” if you will! 😉

    • Alfonso

      Thank God for Divine Middle Knowledge!

    • caleb

      I’ve noticed the same thing, Michael.

      I also noticed that most people in Bible college who set out as “crusaders against Calvinism” ended up being its strongest supporters very soon after. If their passion for that theological distictive could be directed toward reaching the community our world would be a much different place (not that all Calvinists are ineffective, but it is easy to focus on our studies rather than ministering to both the saved and lost)

    • The Jesuit-Counter Reformation teaching of, Luis de Molina, is just a libertarian free-will teaching.

      “Molina’s doctrine is called scientia media, or middle knowledge, because it stands in the middle of the two traditional categories of divine epistemology as handed down by Aquinas, natural and free knowledge. It shares characteristics of each and, in the logical order of the divine deliberative process regarding creation, it follows natural knowledge but precedes free knowledge.”

      Note, John Frame’s book: No Other God, A Response To Open Theism. As Roger Nicole wrote (before he died), “A devastating critique of the concept of human freedom as articulated in the ‘open theistic’ view.’

    • And btw, even Aquinas was an Augustinian!

    • At the end (eschatological if you will), we will all cry: “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.” (Rev. 4:8)

      No middle or free knowledge here! Our only freedom is God’s power, purpose and grace!

    • David L

      Great article! I was just at t4g representing the Martyn Lloyd-Jones Trust, and THAT was the absolute best place for our ministry to have a booth at! Every Calvinist likes MLJ…I wonder if arminians do too??

    • Roger E. Olson

      DrWayman, no one said it was Dr. Olson. But I am Roger E. Olson and I do believe I was Roger E.Olson before Dr Olson was (he’s 3 years younger I think).
      And I do suspect you could do better in life than correct other people’s blog comments. Sheesh!

    • C Michael Patton

      Comment #1. I said that these conferences were very diverse *except* for the fact that no Arminians are invited. I think you may have misread the point of that paragraph.

    • Amen there Nick on real old school Wesleyans! Of course the Wesley brothers were Evangelical Anglicans, also. As I have said many times, John Wesley had more in common with Calvin, on the doctrine of Justification by Faith (Note his Journal, Tues. May 14, 1765).

    • jc_freak

      Things like “The Responsibility of Man in Suffering,” “Man’s Role in Salvation,” or “The Insecurity of Salvation” won’t preach too well.

      Considering that none of these titles reflect Arminian theology, I consider this line to be a bit of a cheap shot. Whether or not your general thesis is true, Arminians don’t belive that salvation is insecure, or that man has a proactive role in salvation, and I know you know better.

    • C Michael Patton

      What I mean is that a belief that one can lose their salvation does not preach. And the view that people could go to hell because we have not evangelized or lived a life of exemplary influence (mans role in salvation) doesn’t sell, especially today with so much insecurity. The more you take man out and replace it with grace, the more people will give the “amen”. Does not make it true. Numbers make nothing true and don’t evidence the truth much. After all, the pews are filled at the Democratic National Convention! 😉

    • jc_freak

      That’s fine. My point is that if you are going to criticize Arminianism, it is better to actually criticize Arminianism and not a straw man. No matter how well you articulate a straw man, it is still a straw man.

    • B. P. Burnett

      This post is profoundly ignorant. Apologetical conferences just ARE theological! Apologetics is the defence of the faith, which must necessarily be defined as a prerequisite. Anyone who studies apologetics knows this.

      But as a matter of fact, there ARE Arminian theological conferences. Take for example, the Arminius Symposium of 2010. Or, take earlier this year on Feb 24-25, the ‘Rethinking Arminius’ forum at Point Loma Nazarene University, San Diego, California.

      Maybe the issue is that Arminian theological conferences are more serious scholarly movements composed of professional theologians, rather than a group of charismatic preachers (a la Piper) stirring up a young, restless and reformed crowd of, frankly, often very ignorant and uncritical young men and women with large empty words.

      The fact is, popularity does not equal truth. I notice the New Atheism was a popular movement. But it how it lacked substance! Academia shows this. `Tis the same of the Calvinist…

    • Scott O

      I recall reading an article some time back recounting the death bed statements of the prominent Calvinist divine, Asahel Nettleton, whose last words were reflective of his doubt as to whether he was one of the truly predestined. For all the shouting about the alleged theological superiority of Calvinism, the system still has to wrestle with issues of double predestination and whether using “preterition” absolves the God of love from damning people to hell without recourse (and that with the usual arguments about sovereignty and inscrutable actions). Arminianism is caricatured as having salvation easy to lose, when the reality is the loss of salvation is in apostasy, not in “saved today, lost tomorrow, saved the next day.” If grace is irresistible, then how is it a freely given, freely received gift? Olson’s “Arminian Theology” is a must read to understand the logical nature of the Arminian ordo salutes.

    • Scott O

      Uh, spell checker got me on the last word in my long post — that should be “ordo salutis”. Apologies for the mistake.

    • Jason

      Nick, it was Michael who proposed that Calvinism had appeal in time of insecurity because it allowed people to see purpose in their discomforts.

      To be honest I don’t see much market for Calvinism outside the profoundly undiscomforted West.

      Seeing purpose behind every bad thing that happens to you, or every good thing, comes across as quite banal when dealing with the life and death of real people. That God can work all things to good for those who love him, does not require him to directly cause those things. After all the same chance happens to all.

      Before you list a whole lot of verses demonstrating that Jews believed God caused good and ill, remember, Jews saw God’s causation in everything, even when he did nothing. Basing an absolute doctrine on a Semitic perceptual trait appears somewhat foolish.

    • C Michael Patton

      Some pretty emotional overstatements going on here. Please keep things civil.

    • B. P. Burnett

      Not emotional overstatements, Mr Patton. I’m just amazed at how absurd this post really is.

    • C Michael Patton

      On a more personal note… My belief in God’s purpose is the only thing that got me through my sister’s suicide and my mother’s paralysis. I don’t think finding meaning in suffering is a western thing. Thoughts that it is is probably why the Arminian solutions find less appeal in my opinion.

      No need to find a few verses, but don’t underestimate the power of verses. 🙂

    • C Michael Patton

      B.R. Just keep things respectful. If you disagree filter your disagreements a few times. Try to go out of your way to be gentle, respectful, and understanding. Your rhetoric does not encourage good conversation. I will try to do the same. Deal?

    • C Michael Patton

      And I am talking about conferences that are public conferences, not just scholars. ETS does not make the cut either.

    • C Michael Patton

      Neither does the pre-trib society or SBL.

    • C Michael Patton

      JC. Well taken critique. What would you suggest for some plenary sessions from someone that is distinctly Arminian?

      As well, I don’t think that “Election and Reprobation” would go over too well in an evangelistic setting either. So I am not trying to build straw men. Just trying to understand this phenomenon (if it is legit).

    • Nick Schoeneberger

      Interestingly, my fascination with apologetics is what led me to embrace the doctrines of grace! When I discovered that the apologists whom I felt were the most consistent, thorough and accurate were all in the Reformed camp, I had to investigate their claims for myself. I’m speaking of guys like R.C. Sproul, Greg Koukl and so on. Of course, now that I have embraced Reformed thinking, I gravitate toward presuppositional approaches to apologetics from guys like James White, Van Til and Bahnsen. I think evidential apologists are more likely to be Arminians since presuppositionalism is a distinctly reformed idea.

    • jc_freak

      Arminians would do a conference on the necessity of the grace of God for instance. If we assume 5-point Arminianism, they would talk about the assurance of salvation and the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit. The love of God would certainly be an excellent topic. I would love to attend an Arminian conference on God’s governance.

      I think the Young Restless and Reformed movement is more what you are looking at though. There is currently a Calvinist Resurrgance and there are personalities and and structures which are supporting and promoting that movement. It isn’t an aspect of theology of Calvinism, but more there being the right personalities and packaging to do it. I think Classic Arminianism is beginning to be on the upswing as well, which makes me happy, and we may see more Arminian conferences in the future.

    • C Michael Patton

      “It isn’t an aspect of  theology of Calvinism, but more there being the right personalities and packaging to do it.”

      Could be right. There are some very attractive (and unfairly criticized) personalities.

      But look at it this way: most of my Calvinist comrades are going the charismatic route, but I am not hoping on that bus!

    • C Michael Patton

      I think that I would love to attend an Arminian leaning conference (so long as it does not boil down to “Against Calcinism.” But I would not go to a Calvinist conference which boiled down to “Against Arminianism” either.

      It would truly be intriguing if we were able to truly pull off some Together for The Gospel conference, I just don’t know what that would look like as passions would have to be toned down in the name of ecumenicalism. Do you?

    • jc_freak

      Here is another thought, and I have expressed this on my own site a couple of years ago. I think a major reason for the Calvinist resurgance is the epistemological breakdown of our society. Irregardless of its validity, it is true that the TULIP packaging makes learning the complete system of Calvinism seemingly easy. I say seemingly because I think it is arguable that many of these new Calvinists aren’t very good Calvinists, but that’s a different topic. In either case, when there is no trust in theological structures and/or tradition history, each person must master theology on their own, yet most don’t want to. Therefore, theological or philosophical systems where are contained or easily presented become very attractive. This is the basic reason why our society loves sound bites and prooftexts instead of careful reasoning and exegesis. TULIP-style Calvinism fits this description, and Arminianism doesn’t have any similar widespread packaging.

    • drwayman

      Roger E. Olson – Thanks for the correction, I have heard of your existence. Strange coincidence. Maybe Dr. Olson’s parents copied your parents.

      I’m not in the habit of being an internet grammarian. I make tons of online mistakes.

      Nevertheless, this post references Dr. Olson and then seemingly the very author responds in a way that is not characteristic for him. I wanted to ensure the reader that he was not the author of the reply to the post, which I was unsure that the average visitor to this site would catch.

      My apologies for any embarrassment that I may have caused you.

    • Roger E. Olson

      No embarrassment, sadness perhaps. I have conversed with DR. Olson on his own blog. Being a “non-Arminian” makes it difficult sometimes to being taken seriously in my own camp.
      No harm, no offense.
      I suppose if my name was John MacArthur I would probably have the same problem. I would probably change my name to Roger Olson if that was the case. 🙂

    • greg huguley

      Obviously CAlvinism “sells.” What else would account for its popularity? (especially among the young raised in the evangelical sub-culture) It’s certainly not the logic nor its flawed understanding of the Biblical God.

    • Sara

      Or is it simply that conferences are popular with the YRR crowd, who are looking for someone to follow? I grew up going to Bill Gothard conferences, so frankly, I am all conferenced-out. I don’t see an emphasis on conferences as healthy. Getting excited and returning home, usually without significant life change but perhaps more critical of the local church, really helps no one. I am Pentecostal Arminian, though formerly in the YRR movement, and passionate about theology. I am preparing a sermon right now that will deal with the glory and sovereignty of God (biblical Arminians DO believe in such things!), and as for grace – too often I’ve seen greater emphasis on that in Arminian circles than in Calvinistic. Perhaps we are simply more grounded in our churches rather than being a movement so don’t feel the need for theological conferences.

    • jonathancarr

      Its really crazy how much divison and hard feelings rise around this subject.

      I dont nessiarily think if something DOES sell, it means that it has a corner of truth…..especially here in the west.

      Plus, there are alot of ministry conferences that are not Calvinisticly based, that are more prayer and outreach based.

      But I would agree that the reformed/Calvinist hold more of the corner in a “theological” conference. And this is why I have respect for that side…….its something that the charismatic church needs.

      Defintly there is a calvinist lean and perspective in this article, but there is some truth to it.

      Will there be a solution and bridge between the cal/ armin camps? I hope so.

      But not being a calvinist, I am on this site alot Michael, and always listening to theo. unplugged, and introducing others to this ministry…….point is we need eachother 🙂

    • @CMP: Funny, how little biblical discussion I see here with the Arminian people? Your point Michael appears to be brought forward even here! The Arminian hill, is a tough climb, biblically and theologically. And I don’t see anyone taking on Roger Nicole!

      @Nick, we are close.. I like John Frame also!

    • Curt Parton

      Interesting post, Michael. As an Arminian, I could quibble with a nuance here and there, but your main observation is intriguing. I’m sure there are occasional exceptions (isn’t Greg Koukl a Calvinist?). And there are definitely excellent Arminian theologians and excellent Calvinist apologists. But, as far as popular conferences go, it’s hard to deny this phenomenon.

      It does seem to correspond with the “YRR” resurgence. This is completely subjective, but from my experience in both camps, Arminians seem to be more open to benefiting from Calvinists’ thoughts and scholarship than vice versa. Many Calvinistic groups seem more motivated to exclude anything that doesn’t line up with their distinctive, soteriological views. I don’t know any Arminians who would want a competing Arminian T4G; but I know a great many who would love a T4G that wasn’t exclusively Calvinistic. (Or a TGC that intentionally included Arminian pastors and leaders.)

    • RazorsKiss

      “However, they normally do so in a less “evidentialist” style that just won’t teach. Have you ever tried to teach people to defend the faith using presuppositional and transcendental arguments? Enough said.”

      Yes, actually. For several years now. Van Til taught the subject for forty three years at Westminster. How about you, CMP? I don’t see you actually being a presupper (since you don’t hold to any of the necessary ingredients for being one – like, for instance, revelational epistemology) I can’t see you teaching it effectively if you either don’t understand it or hold to it.

      As it happens, I believe it does teach. Because I teach it in most of my free time, and have for quite some time. The folks I see saying that it “doesn’t teach” aren’t even presuppers. If it didn’t teach – I wouldn’t do what I do. Further, if presup don’t teach, then Reformed theology don’t teach. After all, presup is just Sola Scriptura in an apologetics context. I can teach…

    • Paul Owen

      I think this post raises an interesting point. The fact is (as has been noted) that Arminians are very actively engaged in public theology conferences, but they tend to be associated with academia rather than church-based venues. I think there is a reason for that. Now mind you, I speak as an Anglican with strong sympathies toward the Reformed/Augustinian tradition.

      Nonetheless, Calvinist (whether of the Presbyterian or Baptistic variety) church culture tends to market itself on the basis of the “doctrines of grace” and “Reformed” distinctives (as they understand them). For the adherents of this sort of religion, it is the esoteric doctrines of “Calvinism” which make Christianity interesting. In fact, the whole Christian faith is fed through the prism of divine sovereignty and its implications. So for Calvinists (of that stripe) talking about the Reformed distinctives is what the Christian religion boils down to. Hence their proclivity toward such conferences for…

    • RazorsKiss

      that and so can anyone who is consistently Reformed.

      Btw – your comment word counter isn’t accurate 🙂

    • R David

      I am also interesting in the Leadership conferences lack of theology. Are those organizing those conferences more interested in teaching leadership than theology? Perhaps.

      Let me say, though, that I think there is a difference between Catalyst and Passion. Passion is not a “leadership” conference per se, since it is more of a conference for college students, and it can include theological teachings (for example, Piper has spoken there on occaision).

    • Indeed myself as a “persupper”, the only lasting argument simply must be the so-called “evidence”, as has been said, of the “revelation” of God, and its biblical epistemology! Though I am myself also close to Augustine’s “hermeneutical presuppositions”, and in later life he became more interested in the literal meaning of the Bible, but also never abandoned the spiritual one. But of course the whole Scripture understanding and communication between God and man or humanity is possible because of the Incarnation, thus only through Christ!

    • I somewhat agree with Paul. But the Canons of Dort, were never really intended to be the only comprehensive statement of the Reformed doctrine and theology. Of course these somewhat came out of the Arminian Remonstrance – their five articles, moving away from the strict Calvinism (Belgic) of the day. But the so-called Doctrines of Grace are not bad or certainly wrong, but we can and must filter them still theologically somewhat, again note Roger Nicole’s wee “acrostic” of Grace/Gospel.

    • Btw, we can and should note, that there is a debate among the Reformed, that even Calvin did not present the Atonement as so-called “Limited”! It is here myself, I like that old scholastic statement: Christ’s Death is sufficient for all, but only efficient (efficacious) for the Elect. Indeed also, one cannot do Reformed Theology without some aspect of a Reformed Scholasticism! Note, here the works of a Theodore Beza, Francis Turretin, etc. And of course in our day, the grand works of Richard Muller! Yes, I am a Muller Fan! And no apologies! 😉

    • jc_freak

      Fr. Robert,

      I find Calvinism theologically incoherent and biblically indefensible, so it is funny to me that you would say that Arminianism is a “tough hill to climb”. Nick mentioned presuppositional apologetics before, and it is important to note that the difference between is principly presuppositions. You even imply as much with Augustine who I see as introducing Platonic categories into Christianity instead of being biblical. It is always important to understand the other side before throwing such polemical haymakers.

    • A.M. Mallett

      Arminianism is not for sale. Apparently, Calvinism is

    • jc: I am one of those that sees the Platonic in much of the NT Letters, especially the Letter to the Hebrews! I also see St. Paul as a Jewish Greco-Roman Hellenist, noting for example, Gal. 4:4-5, etc. Indeed the NT, especially the Letters did not drop out of the sky, but have a historical formation. And the “presuppositional” is just that, based upon the authority of the Holy Scripture, itself! The only Arminian’s I like to degree, are the Wesley brothers, but hey they are, or were Anglicans! I have been an Anglican priest/presbyter for many years, and both pastorally and theologically, I have not found Arminian doctrine helpful myself. But again, I had myself an Augustinian Conversion over 40 years ago, yes I am a Evangelical Anglican and Reformed to the ‘Doctrines of Grace’. Check out the life and Letters of one John Newton, himself a Reformed Anglican. 🙂

    • Now John Newton and his hymn ‘Amazing Grace’, that is a “haymaker”! 😉

    • mbaker

      You know the more I think about all of this Calvinism /Armianian thing, which seems to be the big issue nowadays in evangelical circles at least, the more I think it is more of a man made distraction to take us way from the real issues of the gospel.

      Why are we there when the world, despite we are fighting these theological wars between ourselves, really needs to know about Christ Himself?

    • I wonder how many of us who shepherd and pastor, can say as Paul did to the Corinthians:

      “For in Christ Jesus through the good-news, I begot you.” (1 Cor. 4:15, lit. Greek) Indeed here is the work of the real “fathers”, verses the tutors or mere guides. Here is the pastoral and the work of the shepherd or “Father”! Note, the “Gospel” itself makes the so-called Man of God! (1 Cor. 9:23)

    • Sylvia

      The way I see it is, you either believe in a sovereign God, (Calvinism) or you believe you make your own “Luck” (Armenian). I tend to believe in what the Bible says. Recommended Reading: “Your God is too Small by J.B. Phillips

    • mbaker

      Sylvia,

      You are just proving my point. God didn’t take sides on these issues, And neither am I. He simply said we should believe in Him. That’s where I am regardless. God is sovereign to me, and that’s not just a Calvinist issue, or otherwise to me, but a strictly biblical one.

    • Darlene

      Consumerist Christianity where marketing theology conferences to fill the stadium is the sign of authenticity.

    • C Michael Patton

      I don’t think there is too much marketing involved. Can you explain?

    • C Michael Patton

      MBaker,

      You are exactly right. It has nothing to do with names or people. It has everything to do with how we understand Scripture. Unfortunately some people alleviate themselves of this issue by tying to a person. It is about doctrine, not who held to the doctrine or what name it goes by.

    • C Michael Patton

      J.C. The apostle John brough platonic categories into Christianity as well. Being platonic does not mean being wrong any more than saying Aristotelian logic is wrong and therefore Paul is wrong. Or that Paul’s diatribes were wrong because Socrates used them. You will have to identify the wrong rather than a blanket guilt by association.

    • jc_freak

      Sylvia,

      First of all, it’s Arminian. An Armenian is a person who lives in Armenia.

      Second, Arminians don’t believe they make their own luck. Do your research please.

    • jc_freak

      Micheal,

      The Apostle John was incredibly Jewish in his expression. I don’t think he brought in Platonic categories at all, though I understand the early church often read Platonic categories into his writing.

      I also know that Platonic influence doesn’t make Augustine wrong. I think he was right about some things. Arminianism is essensially Semi-augustinianism. I brought up Plato within the context of presuppositionalism, and that Augustine read a lot of his Platonic assumptions into the Biblical text.

    • Martin

      Don’t you have to distinguish between Molinism and Arminianism? Craigs view for example is quite a bit different than classical Arminianism and he rejects classical Arminianism. is that not also true for Moreland and Geisler? I do not know about the others.

      Craig also makes a point that many theologians are simply not well informed about molinism and therefore do not adhere to this view. But every serious apologist will sooner or later take that view into consideration because it’s value in apologetics regarding the problem of evil.

      Maybe that is the explanation?

    • jc_freak

      I don’t think “distinguish” is the appropriate term. Molinism is about God knowledge, and is also therefore about His sovereignty, but it doesn’t address soteriology itself. Therefore one can be a Molinist and be soteriologically Arminian or Calvinist, depending on how they understand election, the atonement, the dispensation of God’s grace, and the assurance or security of the believer. I know of some Molinists who consider themselves to be ARminian. I know of some who see Molinism as the middle ground in the debate. It is more that the two systems overlap rather than that they are completely distinct.

    • Bob Anderson

      I think your final paragraph is very revealing.

      You – “My hypothesis is that Calvinism preaches better than Arminianism.”

      Translation – You are a Calvinist.

      You – “In a confused world of suffering and pain, we want to know that God has it under control, not man.”

      Translation – “God is causing your suffering.”

      Arminians teach that God is with us in all events of our lives. However, we believe that sin the ultimate cause of suffering, not God.

      You – “Calvinism instigates more of a dramatic change in theology than does Arminianism.”

      Arminians do not try to change the Word of God. We exegete it and interpret it in the light of its context. We do not need to fit it into a theological system, but a contextual framework.

      You – “But nearly all Calvinists can tell of a passionate “conversion” experience as to how Calvinism dramatically changed their way of thinking about God.”

      For Arminians, the transformative event is the cross, not a theological…

    • Nick Schoeneberger

      greg huguley said: “Obviously CAlvinism “sells.” What else would account for its popularity? (especially among the young raised in the evangelical sub-culture) It’s certainly not the logic nor its flawed understanding of the Biblical God.”

      Without presenting a solid argument with plenty of evidence and interacting with the best arguments the other side has to offer, putting statements like this out is a little pathetic. I would encourage anyone with such strong feelings about their belief in man’s free will to read “The Potter’s Freedom” by James White and write a rebuttal. I’ve been waiting for years to see an attempt but there is no beating well-applied hermeneutics and exegesis of scripture. If you aren’t willing to take the challenge, why do you believe what you believe at all? The answer is tradition. A person who is committed to the pursuit of God’s truth and not tradition has nothing to fear of examining the best the other side has to offer.

    • ScottL

      CMP –

      Think about the major conferences out there that are theological in nature: Desiring God, Together for the Gospel, The Gospel Coalition, and Ligonier Ministries.

      This is one corner of evangelicalism in the US. One corner. 🙂

    • drwayman

      Nick said, “I’ve been waiting for years to see an attempt but there is no beating well-applied hermeneutics and exegesis of scripture. If you aren’t willing to take the challenge, why do you believe what you believe at all?”

      Nick – Arminians are frequently falsely saddled with the idea that Arminianism centers around free-will. It doesn’t. That’s why you haven’t seen any real replies to such a challenge.

      Arminianism – pure and simple – is about one thing and one thing only. The character of God. Arminians seek to understand God’s character as seen in a plenary understanding of the God’s Word. We believe that proper theology centers around God’s character.

    • jc_freak

      Nick I would encourage anyone with such strong feelings about their belief in man’s free will to read “The Potter’s Freedom” by James White and write a rebuttal.

      Sorry, but why “Potter’s Freedom” in particular? I’ve read plenty of Calvinist works, including some of White, but I haven’t read that particular book. I also have no intention because I’ve read other books by White and have found his style and arguements to be wanting. By why is that particular book so important to you? If you give me a good reason, I might give it a go (when I have time).

      A person who is committed to the pursuit of God’s truth and not tradition has nothing to fear of examining the best the other side has to offer.

      I don’t really see Arminius and Wesley going along with “tradition”. This seems to be a very ignorant statement. While there are some Arminians who are committed because of tradition, there are also Calvinists who are as well. There are alsothose convinced by…

    • jc_freak

      … There are also those convinced by reason and hermeneutics on both side.

    • Bob Anderson

      Nick: “I would encourage anyone with such strong feelings about their belief in man’s free will to read “The Potter’s Freedom” by James White and write a rebuttal.”

      As I recall, “The Potter’s Freedom” is a polemic against Norman Geisler’s view, partially because Geisler claimed to be a moderate Calvinist. In my reading of the book, White is defending the Reformed viewpoint, using Reformed interpretations of the text to do so. If that is his intent, that is all well and good, although a bit circular in reasoning. But that is not really what I would see as an exegetical approach.

      It is interesting that our original poster sees Calvinism as theological and Arminianism as apologetic, yet so much of what I read by Calvinists seems to be either apologetic (seeking to prove a case for their theology) or polemic (attacking another view) in nature. Even the opening post here is taking that approach.

      And as noted by others, free will is really not the issue.

    • Btw, seeing the so-called “likes”, it surely appears that our Arminian brethren are the majority on this blog! 😉 WE are not of course going to solve this “mystery”, or even change people’s minds here. That is the work of God and the Spirit really! But, I find it interesting to say the least, that the man Calvin is still being read, and written about after over 500 years! Now that is simply amazing in itself!

      And btw, the Jewishness of both John and Paul, is simply closer to the doctrine of God, within the NT Greco-Roman ideas, but this is also surely very Jewish Hellenistic, noting both the Second temple, and the so-called Greek Septuagint!

      But in the end, this is not about today’s personalities, but surely both Church history, and too closer to the Greek and Roman philosophers. I don’t see how we can escape this! (Acts 17, etc.)

    • John B

      Fr. Robert:

      Let me refute Calvinism with its own logic. Man cannot accept the free gift of salvation, yet God holds him accountable for rejecting the free gift. What a wonderful Savior! MCP is correct. Believers today love being told how bad and helpless they are. They eat it up. I suppose it is much easier than trying to be holy.

    • @John B: Of course “Calvinism” is but a moniker for the great doctrine of God’s sovereignty & providence over His world and creation. And it is simply factual that GOD alone sustains life, and really everything on His own, or His own power! This certainly is the general doctrine of the Jewish revelation of God. And thus, too with St. Paul especially we can see God’s sovereignty. But, Paul also presses that God’s salvation is His to give and also sustain, as too St. John (John 15: 16), and also St. Peter (1 Peter 1:2). And so here we certainly enter into the great mystery of God’s predestination and election, of human beings!

    • Bob Anderson

      Fr. Robert: “Of course “Calvinism” is but a moniker for the great doctrine of God’s sovereignty & providence over His world and creation. And it is simply factual that GOD alone sustains life, and really everything on His own, or His own power!”

      I do not think any Christian would suggest that God is not sovereign or providential. The difference is in how we understand Him exercising that sovereignty.

      Calvinists have a tendency to see things from a very deterministic perspective, which they translate into the term “sovereignty.” This is evident in how they seem obsessed with refuting “free will,” as we saw from some of the posts above. From a philosophical perspective determinism is opposed to the concept of free will, so Calvinists focus attention on that issue.

      But the real issue for the non-Calvinists, as Dr. Wayman so capably stated, is the character of God. Free will is simply a byproduct of the greater discussion of the righteousness of God.

    • jlamarcrowder

      I am an Arminian and I see this as a challenge. I’d like to see a major theological conference be promted that includes major Arminian thinkers. My hope is that I will be able to name several in the future. I suspect we Arminians can prove that our doctrine does teach it’s not just anti-calvinism. Plus as a Wesleyan I believe methodists have some great thinkers like William Willimon, Timmothy Tennent, or William J. Abraham etc. that would gather a crowd.

    • Free-will, should be more termed resposible will, man is responsible, but he is certainly not free! Read some Augustine on the will, as too Tertullian here. Btw, the idea of Voluntarism is helpful here also. And, reading Calvin himself is also a must! And note too, most of the Reformed Creeds are intralapsarian, so the idea of God that determines everything, fails here, as all humanity are sinful beings, and deserve nothing. But God has given humanity common grace, but for the elect He gives saving grace!

    • I love these two statements taken from the Irish Articles 1615, i.e. Archbishop Ussher…

      Of God’s eternal decree, and Predestination.

      11. God from all eternity did by his unchangeable counsel ordain whatsoever in time should come to pass: yet so, as thereby no violence is offered to the wills of the reasonable creatures, and neither the liberty nor the contingency of the second causes is taken away, but established rather.

      12. By the same eternal counsel God hath predestinated some unto life, and reprobated some unto death: of both which there is a certain number, known only to God, which can neither be increased nor diminished.

    • Bob Anderson

      “Read some Augustine on the will, as too Tertullian here… And, reading Calvin himself is also a must!…I love these two statements taken from the Irish Articles 1615, i.e. Archbishop Ussher…”

      Have you considered that perhaps the Bible is a better basis of theology?

      I have never met a Calvinist who believed he or she was one of those reprobate you mentioned. Why do you think that is?

      Theology must not be anthropocentric.

    • I would agree with Barth, that the nature of God as Spirit, is ‘totally other’, and human and anthropocentric approaches to God are not biblical. Christ is the Last Adam, and only in the “likeness of sinful flesh” (Rom. 8:3), since the Incarnation. But He is still Incarnate on the Throne above, and now “glorified” forever the New Creation in Himself! And yet, even there, HE mediates for the Church and the Body of Christ, soteriogically fully! (Hebrews 9:24 / John 17:2 ; 9-10)

    • Check out the life of the “Brit” and English Christian and poet William Cowper, he died sadly debating in himself whether he was “elect” or not? Certainly sad, but the older Calvinists were certainly not like so many today!

      *Pronounced Cooper btw.

    • (Have you considered that perhaps the Bible is a better basis of theology?) Come on Bob, that was pretty lame! Do you really want to trade Biblical Textual knowledge with me? A 62 year old Irish Brit, who was weaned on the KJV, by my Irish PB (Plymouth Brethren) greatgram! 😉

    • Btw Bob: I hope you can pick-up my satire here? I am in many ways a “biblicist” myself! I even have many books by the so-called “fundamentalist” Anglican, E.W. Bullinger! 😉 Very true! But I love to read the Bible, itself! I have since I was a young boy. In fact since I was raised an Irish Roman Catholic, I read both my Douai-Reims Bible (Catholic), given to me at my First-Communion, and then too my KJV, given to me by my greatgram. The KJV won-out! I love the “Jimmy”! 😉

    • Nick Schoeneberger

      Allow me to clarify my meaning: “I would encourage anyone with such strong feelings about their belief in man’s free will to read “The Potter’s Freedom” by James White and write a rebuttal.”

      could have more clearly been stated as:

      “I would encourage anyone with such strong feelings about their Arminianism / Wesleyan / non-Calvinist beliefs to read “The Potter’s Freedom” by James White and write a rebuttal.”

      Why this book? It isn’t a simplistic polemic on free will. It is exegetically based – many chapters begin with the text and analyze, using historical-grammatical method, the original Greek and yes, you will see Reformed conclusions. I could recommend older authors like Lorraine Boettner’s “The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination” or Turretin’s systematic theology, but I believe the arguments of the majority of Arminians today are easily answered from scripture as presented clearly in Dr. White’s work. If you don’t like Dr. White, there are certainly many others…

    • Nick Schoeneberger

      For those who wish to carry on trying to promote that Calvinist soteriology is unbiblical, I find this resource to be most helpful in understanding how one arrives at the Reformed position from scripture: http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/gracelist.html

    • Nick Schoeneberger

      Another point, I really find the idea that people who believe in Reformed soteriology believe that God’s sovereignty absolves them of any need for seeking to be holy to be offensive. Reformed belief does vary in some of the details from one group to the next, but I believe you will find that it is true that none believe in such a concept. God will complete the good work he has begun in those whom He saves. That means sanctification progressively conforms us to the image of the son – but only perfectly when we are in glory after death. The emphasis is on the gospel truth that none of the holiness that comes as a result of God’s monergistic act of regeneration and subsequent sanctification gives us any claim to righteousness of our own. So, the human tendency toward moralism or religiosity is the target of this teaching, rather than to believe that holiness and being Christlike by the power of the Holy Spirit isn’t a strong desire in the heart of the regenerate believer.

    • Bob Anderson

      If Barth is correct, then why would you impose human and naturalistic concepts such as a deterministic framework on him as Calvinism does? You (or Calvinism) are assuming that God must work as creation works. Yet at the same time you state he is totally other. If that is the case, then perhaps he does not interact with creation at all and is totally transcendent.

      As a theist and Christian I certainly am not convinced of this and Paul tells us that we can know something about God.

    • Bob Anderson

      Cowper is interesting and certainly an exception (there are always exceptions). Perhaps he struggled with where Calvinism ultimately leads. Let’s deal with the following comment.

      Fr. R – “Come on Bob, that was pretty lame! Do you really want to trade Biblical Textual knowledge with me? A 62 year old Irish Brit, who was weaned on the KJV, by my Irish PB (Plymouth Brethren) greatgram!”

      Yes, I did see the “satire,” but also perhaps a bit of a boast and overconfidence in your position.

      You have thrown around quite a few name, but in the end the text of Scripture itself, within its context, is what defines what we believe. Do not the Calvinists (and Arminians for that matter) claim sola scriptura as the basis for theology?

      Trading Biblical knowledge is what we are to do! As one of my mentors once said, “True theology is always done in community.”

      Whether this is the proper forum is another question, but I have never feared a “fencing” match.

    • Bob Anderson

      Nick S. (On “The Potter’s Freedom”) – “Why this book? It isn’t a simplistic polemic on free will.”

      I would suggest it is a polemic against Norman Geisler’s position and a defense of White’s particular brand of Reformed theology.

      As for its exegetical superiority, I would disagree. He is not approaching the text from a neutral position (if that is even possible). He is defending a Reformed interpretation of the text. Simply looking at his table of contents – yes, I have read it – shows that he is dealing topically with issues that concern Reformed thinking.

      You might want to take a walk through his footnotes to see how many non-Calvinist (apart from Geisler) he uses in his research. I think it is pretty clear that he is simply defending a position. I am not suggesting this is improper, since the book is theological. But you need to understand his intent in writing the book.

      That is, afterall, one aspect of proper exegesis. Right?

    • jc_freak

      From Nick,

      For those who wish to carry on trying to promote that Calvinist soteriology is unbiblical, I find this resource to be most helpful in understanding how one arrives at the Reformed position from scripture: http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/gracelist.html,

      I have never been impressed with the machine gun hermeneutic. Listing Biblical passages is not the same as interacting with them, and we can reference passages too. and this page is a pretty good straw man as well, considering that Arminians believe a lot of these points that the page is “defending”. It doesn’t really address those things which are unique to Calvinism, and makes it look like you have more verses on your side than you do.

    • jc_freak

      Fr. Robert,

      You’re beginning to come off a bit pendantic simply throwing out names without addressing ideas. I’ve read Tertullian and Augustine. The former i don’t even see in your camp at all, and Augustine pre-pelagius work “On the Freedom of the Will” is rather consistant with what we are arguing. Most of the pre-augustine works that deal with these topics are anti-gnostic works, which have a very negative view of determinism, and post Augustine the church adopted Semi-augustinianism over augustinism at the Council of Orange, which Arminianism is merely a Protestant articulation there-of. To this day the EOC doesn’t even hold Augustine in very high regard, especially since he is the source of many RCC novelties as much as he is of Calvinism.

      All of this is to say that tossing a couple of historical names out may give Calvinism a shiny metallic armor, but it is armor made from aluminum, and doesn’t hold up well under scrutiny.

    • jc: I actually read Augustine and Tertullian (as many Fathers), as fully as possible, and I don’t just “cherry pic” them! I am an Anglican, and historically we Anglicans are both “catholic” and “reformed”. But yes, I am first an Augustinian, as was Calvin and Luther.

    • PS…Let me introduce you to a good book on Tertullian, i.e. “Tertullian, First Theologian of the West, by Eric Osborn, (Cambridge, paperback 2003). Check out Tertullian’s great Antitheses in God!

      And btw, I am an old teacher and professor, I taught and lived in Israel in the late 90’s. READ to live, live to Read! 😉

    • jc_freak

      I never accused you of having not read them. I simply argued that an appeal to the church fathers doesn’t help Calvinism very much. The seminary that I went to was paleo-orthodox, and started every theological question with an examination of church history. But history, much like the Scripture, must be interpreted, and if you bring up church history in support of your position, you should expect it to be challenged.

    • jc_freak

      I own Tertullian’s works. I don’t need a “good book” on him. Still, I might consider reading it. There’s nothing wrong with reading an expert on his writings.

    • Challenge away mate! 😉 But remember this is just a blog, and were not in the classroom! Oh if were were, ouch! lol Nothing like good old face to face!

    • Nick Schoeneberger

      jc_freak: I was not attempting a hermeneutic, just to provide a reference because many say that these concepts are found nowhere in scripture. If used properly, including the context of the passages and all of scripture, I find this reference a very helpful tool in examining whether Reformed soteriology is biblical.

      Additionally, I took a look at the scripture reference list you provided and a number of these are among the ones commonly held to be advocating that all men are able to be saved but do not address the total inability of the man who is dead in sin to make a spiritual choice for anything other than rebellion against a God he hates. (Romans 3:10-18)

      Bob: Of course Dr. White starts with the presupposition that all of Scripture is God-breathed and true. 🙂 I challenge you to show where his exegesis is wrong instead of simply inferring that from his presuppositions that he must be. Many of the texts he interacts with have been thrown at me as Arminian proof texts before.

    • Nick Schoeneberger

      Another common argument I hear from non-Reformed folks is that the ECF prior to Augustine didn’t teach predestination or other concepts attributed to Augustine, rather than to Jesus and Paul who teach them in the NT. I suggest anyone making such claims should be aware of John Gill’s work, “The Cause of God and Truth”, part 4 of which is a detailed analysis of the ECF on “Reformed” topics. You can read the whole thing here: http://www.thescripturealone.com/Gill_CauseOfGod&Truth.pdf

    • Bob Anderson

      Nick S: “Bob: Of course Dr. White starts with the presupposition that all of Scripture is God-breathed and true. I challenge you to show where his exegesis is wrong instead of simply inferring that from his presuppositions that he must be. Many of the texts he interacts with have been thrown at me as Arminian proof texts before.”

      Do you have a particular text in mind?

      First, while I disagree with White’s analysis (and the analysis he leverages from others), I understand why he would take the approach he does as a Calvinist. We both approach the text from a hermeneutic of trust, but I suspect our methodologies might differ a bit.

      Second, as I stated to Fr. R., this forum does not lend itself to this type of discussion, primarily because of the limitations of the each blog text.

      If you can suggest another venue and a text you are concerned with (such as the discourse on Paul’s first missionary journey or another), then I could probably interact a bit.

      Email perhaps?

    • Nick Schoeneberger

      Bob, a great idea, sir.
      For the benefit of others, the short list of “most frequently offered Arminian proof texts” that I have interacted with (as does James White in the Potter’s Freedom) are:
      1 Timothy 2:4-6
      2 Peter 3:9
      John 3:16
      1 John 2:2
      Matthew 23:37 (usually this one is conveniently misquoted!)

    • Btw, I rarely use evidential arguments, save perhaps someone’s book/books, etc. And I was a late comer to the blog! But, I will go along a bit with a historical and philosophical argument. I also lived thru much of the existential time in philosophy. And early being educated there in the RCC, we simply must allow, as have been mentioned, a kind of paleo-orthodox (i.e. Oden).. this kind of thinking and thought incorporates, both Catholic and some aspects of Protestantism. And as I have said many times on the blogs, how much I value certain aspects and places in the theology of the EO, (Christology and their Trinitarian doctrine). But their positions on Imputation and Adoption, are very lacking to the NT Pauline in my opinion!

      It is good to discuss many things we disagree on, as Calvinism verses Arminianism, etc., but we must do so in the Spirit of Christ! The bane of the blog has always been that we say things here, we would no doubt never say to someones face!

    • Bob Anderson

      Nick, I will not publish my email here, so is there another way of getting hold of you?

      It should be an interesting discussion.

      I suppose both sides have their favorite “proof-texts,” since John 6, Romans 9:6-29, Acts 13:48 are leveraged by Calvinists.

      But I think proper exegesis even of these passages is very revealing.

    • Here’s a link to chew on! 😉

      http://www.reformedtheology.ca/calvin.html

    • Nick Schoeneberger

      Bob, fortunately, there is a very handy service for just such situations as this. Click on this link to get my Email address: http://scr.im/rp75

    • jc_freak

      Nick:
      I was not attempting a hermeneutic, just to provide a reference because many say that these concepts are found nowhere in scripture. If used properly, including the context of the passages and all of scripture, I find this reference a very helpful tool in examining whether Reformed soteriology is biblical.

      Fair enough.

      Additionally, I took a look at the scripture reference list you provided and a number of these are among the ones commonly held to be advocating that all men are able to be saved but do not address the total inability of the man who is dead in sin to make a spiritual choice for anything other than rebellion against a God he hates. (Romans 3:10-18)

      That’s because we are Arminian and believe in Total Depravity. We would we list verses against an idea we believe in?

    • jc_freak

      Fr Robert:
      It is good to discuss many things we disagree on, as Calvinism verses Arminianism, etc., but we must do so in the Spirit of Christ! The bane of the blog has always been that we say things here, we would no doubt never say to someones face!

      Amen! I also think that what we say comes out harsher than it would in person because of lack of body language and instant visual feedback from the listener. Sometimes it is good to step back and say, “We are brothers in the Lord and I look forward to having all of this sorted out once we are together with Jesus.”

    • jc_freak

      Nick, that last sentence should be “Why would we list verses against an idea we believe in?”

    • StuartB

      There some kind of bug in the comments system instantly giving 7 plus likes to every anti-Calvinist post? All this yellow is blinding…

    • Clay Knick

      This is utterly simplistic. I think Arminians like Tom Oden & Roger Olson have said plenty about what they are for, not against.

    • “Calvinism” is a theological construct that is for the grace & glory of God, and only against evil itself, but even greater, it is sovereign and providential over evil itself.

    • […] An Inexpressible Treasure Does Arminianism Preach?April 23, 2012 By scotmcknight Leave a CommentC. Michael Patton’s got a point of view here (italics below), and …I wonder what you think?I made an observation recently that may be […]

    • Richard Worden Wilson

      I posted this on Jesus Creed:

      Reformed theology tends to emphasize God’s sovereignty, or rather control, over everything, including our will. Arminian theology tends to emphasize the sovereignty of the human will (granted as prevenient grace) and the latter can sound almost heretical for those frightened by their own behavior. The Bible acknowledges both the sovereignty of God and the freedom of humans, but the Arminian view may seem too threatening in light of our abject sinfulness and lack of spiritual monogamy if that is who we are. We consciously or unconsciously realize we are continuing in sin and disobedience–if not fully submitted to the Spirit of Christ–and can’t acknowledge that our behavior can alienate us from God. God is surely too good and too powerful to allow us to be one of those to whom Jesus will say: “Truly I say to you, I do not know you,” or “from the one who has not, take away even what he has” (Matt 25:12 & 29), isn’t he? [More to come in next post]

    • Richard Worden Wilson

      Of course God is faithful and able to save, but he doesn’t do that against the will of the ones he saves. Those not obeying him know that their only chance is if God just “chooses” and “elects” them despite their disobedience; their only chance is if the claims of Reformed “theological certainty” trumps their spiritual unfaithfulness; of course this “sells” big time. Conversion to the theological certainty of this neo-Reformed perspective is most likely conversion to “another gospel,” but it isn’t currently seen as such because of the same kind of cultural and theological “kinetic energy” that kept those in the Roman Catholic Church from seeing its excesses (however partially) until after the Reformation. Wasn’t the main spiritual problem of the scribes and Pharisees that they believed they were irrevocably “the elect,” the “sons of Abraham” and therefore saved? Pray for another reformation before Christ comes back. In either case there will be a lot of surprises,…

    • drwayman

      Richard W said, “Arminian theology tends to emphasize the sovereignty of the human will…”

      Richard – Arminians are frequently falsely saddled with the idea that Arminianism centers around free-will. It doesn’t.

      Arminianism – pure and simple – is about one thing and one thing only. The character of God. Arminians seek to understand God’s character as seen in a plenary understanding of the God’s Word. We believe that proper theology centers around God’s character.

    • 22. Is very confused Arminian theology, and simply poor historically, i.e. Roman Catholicism, etc. Also Augustine used the idea of prevenient grace. And lest we forget, Calvin received much of his thought and ideas from Augustine, as too even Luther. Augustianianism was the backdrop of the Reformation.

    • […] Less Dangerous to Raise Your Kids in Africa than it is to Raise them in America (Desiring God Blog) Calvinist are Theologians; Arminians are Apologists? (Credo House) The Fruitful Side of Multi-site (Harvest Bible Chapel) Should Christians Cooperate […]

    • JRPrice

      I think the reason that Arminians or non-Calvinists have more apologetics conferences is the that they also apply the laws of logic to their theology. And no, that is NOT an oxymoron. Once you apply logic to your theology then Calvinism tends to self-destruct.

      The comment that leadership and/or apologetics conferences don’t do theology is ludicrous! Just because we don’t spend all our time touting and defending TULIP doesn’t mean we don’t do theology.

    • Rob

      C. Michael, I’ve always enjoyed your endearing candor as yourelate theology to the common man. I’ve been doing alot of soul searching as of late in regards to the Arminian question. We would all do well to remember that our sins did not nail an Arminian, nor a Calvinist to the tree atop Golgotha, but rather our Christ. We should be reminded that we are Christians. Whatever else we may be comes somewhere way down the road from the foot of the cross. Our Soveriegn Redeemer is not glorified when we take liberty in the flesh to treat someone poorly for the position of their conscious. The Arminians amongst us would do well to be thankful for the likes of Edwards, Whitfield, and Spurgeon for fanning the flames of revival. The Calvinists in our midst should be thankful for men such as A.W. Tozer, Leonard Ravenhill, C.S. Lewis, and John Wesley. We should all heed the words of James regarding the destructive nature of the tongue…Satan’s great tool.

    • Bob Anderson

      Rob, you said: “We would all do well to remember that our sins did not nail an Arminian, nor a Calvinist to the tree atop Golgotha, but rather our Christ. We should be reminded that we are Christians. Whatever else we may be comes somewhere way down the road from the foot of the cross.”

      I must give you an “Amen” on this. It seems many believe that the “gospel” is some form of Calvinism or Arminianism. But Paul is very clear that the “gospel of God” is what was promised beforehand by the prophets concerning his Son, the descendent of David. If anything, we should understand that the gospel is not Calvinist or Arminian in character. If anything, it is Jewish in character.

      The gospel is God’s gospel, not Calvin’s, not Wesley’s, not mine (thank goodness!).

      It is truly “good news” for all.

    • […] observation was made recently in an article “Why Arminianism Doesn’t Sell” where they pointed out that Calvinists have a market on the conferences (The Gospel […]

    • Andrew T.

      It’s likely preferable to be biblically sound then popular. Remember, Christ didn’t sell all that well either.

    • Austin

      I’m a little surprised at the reaction to this post. It seemed to me to be nothing more than a snapshot of the current practices of the various doctrinal positions. There didn’t seem to be any normative flavor to it – just pointing out some interesting dissimilarities. The vitriolic response by some Arminians to this innocuous post is puzzling to me.

      If you’ll be so gracious, I’ll tell my story. Moderator, feel free to delete if you deem it’s appropriate to do so. Thanks. I’ll continue in the next several posts.

    • Austin

      The reasons I came to embrace Calvinism are myriad indeed. Of course I started out as Arminian, as I believe most new Christians do by default. I didn’t even know what Calvinism was, and when I was first exposed to it, I was terribly confused. I didn’t understand the terms, the theological implications, or the significance. I was utterly confused.

      But as I read my Bible (as a new believer and default Armenian), there were many passages that just didn’t make sense to me. How was it fair to Pharaoh that God hardened his heart? How come his choice was taken away from him? Same for Judas, why was he a devil from the beginning? What is Paul talking about in Romans 9? These (plus more) are questions that really troubled me and I could not see how they were reconciled with Christianity as I was learning it.

      My thirst for all things Christ stoked my perseverance to re-engage with Calvinism so I could at least understand it. As I gradually began to comprehend what Calvinism teaches about the bible, I was very much intrigued – indeed fascinated – was not yet sold on it. But as I began wrestling it, I kept Calvinism in the back of my mind as I read the bible. Suddenly everything seemed to start to fit together in a way I had never seen before. All those confusing passages suddenly made sense.

    • Austin

      The enormity of God’s grace began to dawn on me. Oh my! What can I do but fall on my face in absolute gratitude and humbleness and shame and love for a God who sovereignty chose to adopt me for absolutely no reason that I can claim for my own! Why me? I’m so undeserving! What is this grace? Once I “got” grace, my world, my theology, my everything was turned absolutely upside down.

      With Calvinism in mind, I started looking back on my journey as a Christian. I remembered the Saturday night before Easter, April 22nd, 2000, when I was an unbeliever asleep in my bed, when suddenly at about 3 in the morning I literally sat bolt upright in bed, absolutely wide awake with the conviction my soul that I absolutely *had* to go to Church that Sunday morning. I was so energized, so excited that I couldn’t go back to sleep. I got dressed in the best clothes I had and headed out the door well before dawn. I wanted to be the first person at the first service that Easter morning. Prior to that morning, and when I had gone to bed that night before, thoughts of God and church were the furthest thing from my mind. So when I headed out that morning, I had literally no idea where I was going or what to expect.

      I just drove around the city until I found the first church I saw. I went in and found myself excited for another strange reason – I was excited for the *sermon!* – the very same sermon I always dreaded and found hopelessly boring whenever I happened to be in church before. I was excited to lean about Jesus and his plan for my life! Once the first service was over, I drove around until I found another church with another service. I did that the rest of the day. I just wanted to drink it all in.

    • Austin

      From that day, I continued on my Christian journey and always that night when I was convicted was strange, but I never had an answer for it. I continued my Christian walk – at this point still completely oblivious to Calvinism’s even existence – until several years later I started to stray from the faith.

      I lost my zeal, I lost my compassion and my enthusiasm until I eventually settled back into my sinful, secular, empty way of life. Sure I believed in God still, but there was no evidence of him in my life. I became apathetic and I really didn’t care that much about God anymore. So I resumed my life of sin and sure enough it took me to the very edge of the pit.

      I had screwed things up royally and was absolutely mired in sin – the consequences of which were extremely grave, for me and those around me. It was a very dire, ugly situation. But God in his sovereignty used that to bring me back to him. I was in desperate need of comfort, so God in his grace softened my heart enough so that I ran to him instead of away from in my time of trouble.

      I repented for my apostasy and was renewed with vigor to lean about the things of God. It was during this time that I really began to read my bible, indeed sat down and read it cover-to-cover, reading for many, many hours a day, every day, not stopping until I was finished. I read multiple versions of the Bible concurrently, to mine the nuanced meaning that could only come from multiple translations. I consulted commentaries and apologetics websites. I was determined to really learn about this God that brought me back to him and his mysterious ways. The time was over for my immature faith of years past. God had brought me back from the pit despite the fact I was absolutely headed for destruction.

    • Austin

      Why would he do that? Could he possibly love me enough to save me? Make no mistake, I know I was dead – dead! – in my sin. It was God who sovereignty pulled me out of the pit, with absolutely no cooperation on my part. If it were left up to me I would have perished, continuing in my sin.

      So I felt I owed it to God that I learn more about him so I could love him more fully and give him his due praise. It’s at this time I really started diving in to Calvinism that I described earlier. Everything I was learning about Calvinism “fit.” It explained those confusing and hard passages in the Bible, it explained my dramatic conversion experience, it explained how God allowed me to fall off the path temporarily to use suffering to purify me, it explained why I wasn’t ultimately lost and he pulled me back despite my total depravity, and it explained why two people could read the exact same passage and one’s heart is melted and the other’s is hardened.

      Quite simply it fit neatly into every experience in my entire life, or rather, my entire life fit neatly into the meta-narrative that is Calvinism, or more properly, the gospel.

      Not content to stop there, I continued to study Calvinism, because as so many have pointed out, Calvinism’s not without its difficulties either. What was I to make of these? The more I studied philosophy, the more I studied logic, the more I studied history and economics the more certain of Calvinism I became.

    • Austin

      It just seemed to fit together not only with the world, but with itself. I found it very easy draw one logical conclusion about a certain point of Calvinism from another point of Calvinism. For instance, if God sovereignly chooses us before time, then of course his grace will be irresistible and of course his saints will persevere. God doesn’t lose those he’s willed to save. Because it’s not about us! It’s about God’s sovereign plan for his own glory!

      There is a love affair between and among the persons of the Trinity. Because the Father loves the Son so much, he wants to give the ultimate gift – a redeemed humanity that forever praises the Son for their redemption from the sin they know they were deserving of and powerless to avoid.

      Don’t you see? We are caught up in a cosmic expression of love! And God in is grace allows us to be an integral part of it! We’re not redeemed for our sake, but for the Son’s! The love gift from the Father to the Son is an elect segment of humanity that is conscious of – and eternally grateful for – the pure, sovereign, beautiful grace that allows them to be part of such a wonderful experience. The Son’s gift is that he will forever be praised by those who love him not only for what he did, but because of who he *is!* And he’s worthy of this praise – it’s only right that he receive it.

    • Austin

      Thus we are saved for his sake, not ours. So when we read in the Bible that we were chosen before foundation of the world, that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ, that he doesn’t lose *any* of those the father gave him, and that he does this not for us but for his name’s sake, it all makes perfect sense!

      Thus, I’m a Calvinist because of my life experience, because the Bible very clearly makes the case for Calvinism, because it’s logical not only within itself and internally consistent, but it’s externally logical and consistent with the world we see out there and the very character of God himself. In my experience, the case for Calvinism is absolutely formidable and has passed every test and destroyed any argument against it.

      But that’s just my own personal conclusion from my own unique experience. Thanks for listening.

      Austin

    • Mike

      You said: “or it may just betray the reality of the tight Evangelical circles in which I travel most of the time.”

      I think that is the best answer. You are generalizing a GREAT deal based upon your limited exposure.

      Not very helpful, sorry.

    • M J Spaulding

      Hi,
      I like all the men that you mentioned both Reformed and Arminian. When I read the Reformed men I cringe when then mention predestinaton because I am Arminain. But they are all informative.

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