Arminianism: The Road to Rome

Arminianism: The Road to Rome

Augustus Toplady (1740-1778)

hymnwriter and theologian

Whose Voice Do You Hear? toplady3

“My sheep, saith Christ, hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish. O, most worthy Scriptures! which ought to compel us to have a faithful remembrance, and to note the tenor thereof; which is, the sheep of Christ shall never perish.”Doth Christ mean part of his elect, or all, think you? I do hold, and affirm, and also faithfully believe, that he meant all his elect, and not part, as some do full ungodly affirm. I confess and believe assuredly, that there shall never any of them perish: for I have good authority so to say; be- cause Christ is my author, and saith, if it were possible, the very elect should be deceived. Ergo, it is not possible that they can be so deceived, that they shall ever finally perish, or be damned: wherefore, whosoever doth affirm that there may be any (i.e. any of the elect) lost, doth affirm that Christ hath a torn body.”1

The above valuable letter of recantation is thus inscribed: “A Letter to the Congregation of Free-willers, by One that had been of that Persuasion, but come off, and now a Prisoner for Religion:” which superscription will hereafter, in its due place, supply us with a remark of more than slight importance.


John Wesley, A Friend of Rome?

To occupy the place of argument, it has been alleged that “Mr. Wesley is an old man;” and the Church of Rome is still older than he. Is that any reason why the enormities, either of the mother or the son, should pass unchastised?

It has also been suggested, that “Mr. Wesley is a very laborious man:” not more laborious, I presume, than a certain active being, who is said to go to and fro in the earth, and walk up and down in it:2 nor yet more laborious, I should imagine, than certain ancient Sectarians, concerning whom it was long ago said, “Woe unto you Scribes, hypocrites; for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte:”3 nor, by any means, so usefully laborious, as a certain diligent member of the community, respecting whose variety of occupations the public have lately received the following intelligence: “The truth of the following instance of industry may be depended on: a poor man with a large family, now cries milk, every morning, in Lothbury, and the neighbourhood of the Royal Exchange; at eleven, he wheels about a barrow of potatoes; at one, he cleans shoes at the Change; after dinner, cries milk again; in the evening, sells sprats; and at night, finishes the measure of his labour as a watchman.”4


The Quarrel is With the Wolf

Mr. Sellon, moreover, reminds me (p. 128.) that, “while the shepherds are quarrelling, the wolf gets into the sheep fold;” not impossible: but it so happens, that the present quarrel is not among “the shepherds,” but with the “wolf” himself; which “quarrel” is warranted by every maxim of pastoral meekness and fidelity.

I am further told, that, while I am “berating the Arminians, Rome and the devil laugh in their sleeves.” Admitting that Mr. Sellon might derive this anecdote from the fountain head, the parties themselves, yet, as neither they nor he are very conspicuous for veracity, I construe the intelligence by the rule of reverse, though authenticated by the deposition of their right trusty and well-beloved cousin and counsellor.

Once more: I am charged with “excessive superciliousness, and majesty of pride:” and why not charged with having seven heads and ten horns, and a tail as long as a bell-rope? After all, what has my pride, or my humility, to do with the argument in hand? Whether I am haughty, or meek, is of no more consequence either to that, or to the public, than whether I am tall or short: however, I am, at this very time, giving one proof, that my “majesty of pride” can stoop; that even to ventilate the impertinences of Mr. Sellon.


Arminianism at Home in Rome

But, however frivolous his cavils, the principles for which he contends are of the most pernicious nature and tendency. I must repeat, what already seems to have given him so much offence, that Arminianism “came from Rome, and leads thither again.” Julian, bishop of Eclana a contemporary and disciple of Pelagius, was one of those who endeavoured, with much art, to gild the doctrines of that heresiarch, in order to render them more sightly and palatable. The Pelagian system, thus varnished and paliated, soon began to acquire the softer name of Semipelagianism. Let us take a view of it, as drawn to our hands by the celebrated Mr. Bower, who himself, in the main, a professed Pelagian, and therefore less likely to present us with an unfavourable portrait of the system he generally approved. Among the principles of that sect, this learned writer enumerates the following:

“The notion of election and reprobation, independent on our merits or demerits, is maintaining a fatal necessity, is the bane of all virtue, and serves only to render good men remiss in working out their salvation, and to drive sinners to despair.   “The decrees of election and reprobation are posterior to, and in consequence of, our good or evil works, as foreseen by God from all eternity.”5

Is not this too the very language of modern Arminianism? Do not the partizans of that scheme argue on the same identical terms? Should it be said, “True, this proves that Arminianism is Pelagianism revived; but it does not prove, that the doctrines of Arminianism are originally Popish:” a moment’s cool attention will make it plain that they are. Let us again hear Mr. Bower, who, after the passage just quoted, immediately adds, “on these two last propositions, the Jesuits found their whole system of grace and free-will; agreeing therein with the Semipelagians, against the Jansenists and St. Augustine.”6 The Jesuits were moulded into a regular body, towards the middle of the sixteenth century: toward the close of the same century, Arminius began to infest the Protestant churches. It needs therefore no great penetration, to discern from what source he drew his poison. His journey to Rome (though Monsicur Bayle affects to make light of the inferences which were at that very time deduced from it) was not for nothing. If, however, any are disposed to believe, that Arminius imbibed his doctrines from the Socinians in Poland, with whom, it is certain, he was on terms of intimate friendship, I have no objection to splitting the difference: he might import some of his tenets from the Racovian brethren, and yet be indebted, for others, to the disciples of Loyola.


Papists and Predestination

Certain it is, that Arminius himself was sensible, how greatly the doctrine of predestination widens the distance between Protestantism and Popery. “There is no point of doctrines (says he) which the Papists, the Anabaptists, and the (new) Lutherans more fiercely oppose, nor by means of which they heap more discredit on the reformed churches, and bring the reformed system itself into more odium; for they (i.e. the Papists, & etc.) assert, that no fouler blasphemy against God can be thought or expressed, than is contained in the doctrine of predestination.”7 For which reason, he advises the reformed world to discard predestination from their creed, in order that they may live on more brotherly terms with the Papists, the Anabaptists, and such like.

The Arminian writers make no scruple to seize and retail each other’s arguments, as common property. Hence, Samuel Hoord copies from Van Harmin the self same observation which I have now cited. “Predestination (says Samuel) is an opinion odious to the Papists, opening their foul mouths, against our Church and religion:”8 consequently, our adopting the opposite doctrines of universal grace and freewill, would, by bringing us so many degrees nearer to the Papists, conduce to shut their mouths, and make them regard us, so far at least, as their own orthodox and dearly beloved brethren: whence it follows, that, as Arminianism came from Rome, so “it leads thither again.”


The Jesuits and Predestination

If the joint verdict of Arminius himself, and of his English proselyte Hoord, will not turn the scale, let us add the testimony of a professed Jesuit, by way of making up full weight. When archbishop Laud’s papers were exam- ined, a letter was found among them, thus endorsed with that prelate’s own hand: “March, 1628. A Jesuit’s Letter, sent to the Rector at Bruxels, about the ensuing Parliament.” The design of this letter was to give the Superior of the Jesuits, then resident at Brussels, an account of the posture of civil and ecclesiastical affairs in England; an extract from it I shall here subjoin: “Father Rector, let not the damp of astonishment seize upon your ardent and zealous soul, in apprehending the sodaine and unexpected calling of a Parliament. We have now many strings to our bow. We have planted that soveraigne drugge Arminianisme, which we hope will purge the Protestants from their heresie; and it flourisheth and beares fruit in due season. For the better prevention of the Puritanes, the Arminians have already locked up the Duke’s (of Buckingham) eares; and we have those of our owne religion, which stand continually at the Duke’s chamber, to see who goes in and out: we cannot be too circumspect and carefull in this regard. I am, at this time, transported with joy, to see how happily all instruments and means, as well great as lesser, co-operate unto our purposes. But, to return unto the maine fabricke:–OUR FOUNDATION IS ARMINIANISME. The Arminians and projectors, as it appeares in the premises, affect mutation. This we second and enforce by probable arguments.”9


The Sovereign Drug Arminianism

The “Sovereign drug, Arminianism,” which said the Jesuit, “we (i.e. we Papists) have planted” in England, did indeed bid fair “to purge our Protestant Church effectually. How merrily Popery and Arminianism, at that time, danced hand in hand, may be learned from Tindal: “The churches were adorned with paintings, images, altar-pieces, & etc. and, instead of communion tables, alters were set up, and bowings to them and the sacramental elements enjoined. The predestinarian doctrines were forbid, not only to be preached, but to be printed; and the Arminian sense of the Articles was encouraged and propagated.”10 The Jesuit, therefore, did not exult without cause. The “sovereign drug,” so lately “planted,” did indeed take deep root downward, and bring forth fruit upward, under the cherishing auspices of Charles and Laud. Heylyn, too, acknowledges, that the state of things was truly described by another Jesuit of that age, who wrote: “Protestantism waxeth weary of itself. The doctrine (by the Arminians, who then sat at the helm) is altered in many things, for which their progenitors forsook the Church of Rome: as limbus patrum; prayer for the dead, and possibility of keeping God’s com- mandments; and the accounting of Calvinism to be heresy at least, if not treason.”11


Arminianism From the Pit

The maintaining of these positions, by the Court divines, was an “alteration” indeed; which the abandoned Heylyn ascribes to “the ingenuity and moderation found in some professors of our religion.” If we sum up the evidence that has been given, we shall find its amount to be, that Arminianism came from the Church of Rome, and leads back again to the pit whence it was digged.


ENDNOTES:

1. Strype, u.s.
2. Job 1:7 with 1 Peter 5:8.
3. Matt. 23:15.
4. Bath Chronicle, for Feb. 6, 1772.
5. Bower’s Hist. of the Popes, vol. 1, p. 350.
6. Bower ibid.
7. Arminius, in Oper. P.115. Ludg. 1629. (See book for Latin.)
8. Hoord, In Bishop Davenant’s Animadversions, Camb. 1641.
9. Hidden works of darkness, p. 89, 90. Edit. 1645.
10. Tindal’s Contin. of Rapin, vol. 3 octavo, 1758.
11. Life of Laud, p. 238.

Walk in the Spirit

I am going through The Walk of Repentance Bible Study for the second time and have been focusing a lot on Galatians 5:16: “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.” Galatians 5 goes on to list the lusts of the flesh versus the fruits of the Spirit. There is no doubt which list I would like to define my life but I am very aware that, without the Spirit, I will be doing those things that I do not wish to do.

As Christians, we cannot use the excuses so many do, such as “God knows I’m human” or “Nobody’s perfect.” God does know those things but He also gives specific commands as to how we should live. They are not suggestions. He tells us to be holy as he is holy (Lev. 11:44, referenced also in 1 Peter 1:16). Probably the most sobering portion of Scripture is Matthew 7:21-23: “Not every one that said to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out devils? and in your name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.” Those verses alone are enough to send me to my knees crying out to God to remove the sin in my life that displeases Him and replace those areas with His Spirit so that I don’t hear those dreadful words.

Walk-in-the-Spirit

If it were easy to be a Christian, everyone would be one. Unfortunately, the world sometimes has more of a handle on how Christians should act than those who profess to be Christ’s followers. If you are truly following Him, you will be like Him. You may not be perfect but you will fight the good fight, you will fall on your face in repentance when you do things that grieve Him, you will see your sin as He does. In the words of the old song, “It’s a battlefield, Brother, not a recreation room. It’s a fight; it’s not a game.”

I plead with you today: do not hold on to the sin that is pleasurable for a season but will end in spiritual death. Cling to the One who gives you life and that more abundantly. Let nothing be more important than pleasing Him and being a Light on this earth so that others can know Him as well.

Life is short. You never know when it may be your last day. Don’t waste your remaining time on earth living for self. Decide today to follow Jesus. No turning back. No turning back.

9 Steps Toward Personal Apostasy

personal apostasy

John Bunyan in the classic novel, Pilgrims Progress, illustrates the 9 progressive steps toward personal apostasy. This list is modified and modernized for your understanding. Please read and take heed. Save this in your journal, your computer, or make it your bookmark, but remember this well. I have bolded words that are important elements of understanding. If you want to read this portion of Pilgrims Progress in context, click here

  1. You draw away your thoughts from the remembrance of God, death, and judgment to come.
  2. Then, you slowly stop private duties like closet prayer, curbing your lusts, watching for temptation, sorrow for sin, and the like.
  3. Then, you turn away the company of lively and warm Christians.
  4. After that, you grow cold to public duty, as hearing the word preached, reading the bible, godly fellowship, and the like.
  5. Then, you begin to pick holes in the coats of some of the godly; and do it maliciously, that you may have a seeming excuse to throw [the Christian] religion (for the sake of some sin you have seen in others) behind your back.
  6. Then, you begin to adhere to, and associate yourself with, carnal, loose, and immoral men/women.
  7. Then, you give in to carnal and immoral discourses in secret; and you are glad if you can see such things in anyone else that is called Christian, that way you can commit your sin more boldly through their example.
  8. After this, you begin to play with little sins openly.
  9. And then, being hardened, you prove yourself to be as lost as they are. Thus, being launched again into the gulf of misery, unless a miracle of grace prevent it, you perish forever in your own deception.

Accidental Discipleship

Change. All of us want to – need to – change in some way. We try all sorts of tactics, theories, imagesand drugs. All of which are shortcuts, focused on defeating the desires of our flesh. Too seldom do we seek God’s wisdom, thinking His way takes too long, requires too much effort.

But change is the wrong goal. It’s what the flesh wants and it’s a shortcut that will lead to disappointment or destruction. Knowing Jesus is the correct goal. In Him we are complete (Colossians 2:10). Whatever change is truly needed in our lives will be wrought by the Spirit of God if we abandon our plans for self-justification and pursue Christ. Not improvement, not change for the better, not relief from our pain; just Jesus.

Pursuing the wrong objective – a better life, defeating a habitual sin – is like attacking a heavily defended fortress (a stronghold) with toy weapons. We will be defeated. When we focus on the enemy, the sin, the stronghold that assails you – you are drawn away from the narrow path that Christ calls His brothers to walk. Only by keeping your eyes focused on your Guide can you keep from straying from the narrow way.

Christ is more than our goal. He is our creator, example, savior, teacher, brother, and King. All battles against sin will be – and can only be – won by making a determined, get-up-when-you-fall, faith-based pursuit of Jesus the Christ. When you or I fail to pursue Him, we grow complacent and disenchanted with Him. The allure of the flesh entices (James 1:14 & 15) and we fall – or jump – into sin. Why didn’t God stop us? Why didn’t He prevent it? He gave us His Spirit and His Son – and the choice to walk in Him or walk in the desires of our flesh. He gives us the promise that if we walk in Him, we will not fulfill the desires of the flesh (Gal 5:16). The flip side of that coin is also true: if we walk in the flesh we will not fulfill the desires of His spirit, but of our flesh.

Seek to know Him. Paul told the church at Corinth, “I determined not to know anything among you, except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:2) Christ alone – good enough for the Apostle Paul. Is He enough for you? If not, it’s not because He is lacking – it’s because you and I choose wrong and fail to be thankful for Him. Choose Christ – above all else – regardless of your emotions.

As Jesus was deliberate in coming to Earth (Philippians 2:5 – 11) to seek and save you and me, we who are redeemed by His blood must be deliberate in seeking His will, His Word – Him.

If a man expects to drift into spiritual obedience or maturity, he is mightily deceived. This is what Satan would have God’s children believe – that we can mature to Christ-likeness by going with the flow.

Remember: The path of least resistance makes both men and rivers crooked. Choose to pursue Christ and he we will make your path straight. (Psalms 27:11)

Servanthood

This is another trait that I do not excel in but I love watching it in action. It seems to me to be the epitome of Christianity. Jesus said that He came to serve, not to be served. I personally like to be served but that is not why God put me here on earth. It is not all about me.

I was talking with a lady yesterday who is always opening her home to others, organizing gatherings, etc. She mentioned that no one ever offers to help; they just comment on how this lady and her family do such a great job. This happens way too often in the Church. It’s easy to leave hard work to the pastor or church leaders because, after all, that’s their job or it’s what they are paid to do. Servanthood is not a gift, however; it is a calling for every Believer.

wash-jesus-washing-apostles-feet

You may deal with insecurity as I do, thinking that there is no practical way you can serve others or maybe you feel like everyone else is better at doing things than you are. I guarantee you, though, that if you ask God to show you ways that you can be more of a servant, He will show you and teach you how to do so effectively. Don’t underestimate the blessing that you can be if you will lay aside your inhibitions and allow God to use you. Most people are not going to criticize genuine works of love, even if not done perfectly. And as you begin to serve in small ways, you will begin to be more confident and see more ways that you can practically serve others.

If you are one who tends to sit back and let everyone else do all the work, begin to pray about a place of servanthood that you can fill. If you are one who is getting burnt out because you are always the one pouring out, don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s possible that others are willing to help; they just haven’t considered the fact that you need help or they may be afraid to admit that they don’t know what to do. Some just need a mentor to guide them.

I am not an expert on this topic and, as I mentioned, this is an area that I definitely need to grow in but I am trusting God to open my eyes to things I can do and to help me to grow in this area. I trust that you will pray about this too.

servanthood-576x180

Prevenient Grace

Manfred:

I have come to see the argument over God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility as a key dividing line between true submission to God and actual worship of self. Those who cannot accept the hard teachings of God always come up with a man-pleasing alternative. From “natural causes” for the crossing of the Red Sea to “natural causes” for the resurrection of spiritually dead souls – our natural state is to deny God’s sovereignty. There is no neutral corner into which we can retreat. We who have been born again by the Spirit of the living God must submit to Him, though our flesh fails us and always tries to lead us astray.

Originally posted on Truth Unchanging:

Many have posited what they call the doctrine of prevenient grace which, according to their view, grants the power of “libertarian free will” universally. Most seem clueless about how they are using that term. The more intelligent of them will actually attempt to define what they mean by free will. They define it as “a person’s ability to choose other than he has chosen.” If I choose to eat chicken, I have equal ability to choose to eat steak. I have no issue with the idea that God has granted people the freedom of choice. Even the vilest sinner is free to choose to leave his sins and follow Christ if he wishes. If he should choose that option, he would do so because he had chosen to do so freely and apart from external constraint. By that, I do not mean that the human will is autonomous and acts…

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Self-Control

Self-control is a fruit of the spirit I don’t hear much about. In my Bible study the other night, I was reminded of how many areas are encompassed in this one character trait.

America has become a feel-good society. “If it feels good, do it” was the slogan of the hippies but many still have that mentality today. We have comfort food, promiscuous sex, rampant gossip, etc. (James 3 has a lot to say about the tongue and is worth taking the time to read.)

SelfControlWhatever we do in word or deed, we are told to do all to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31). There are also things God has told us not to do which all centers around living for self. Once we become children of God, our lives become His. Everything we do, say, and think are to reflect Him. If we are constantly feeding our flesh, we are not going to reflect our Father but instead are the antithesis of Him.

If there is one fruit that a lot of us don’t possess, it is this one but I feel like it is key to all the others. If you can master self-control, I believe love, joy, peace, gentleness, kindness, etc. will begin to exhibit itself. This is an area I am still working on. I pray for God’s help to surrender this area of my life to Him in every way that He shows me. I want and need God’s presence in my life. If anything is hindering that, it is not worth holding on to.