Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Why Most Baptist Ministers Don't Think They're Arminian

Although I'm not a Baptist, I've run in Baptist circles here and there for much of my Christian life, and had many friends who were Baptists in one way or another (in fact most of my friends are Baptists), so I feel I now have somewhat of  a good understanding of what goes on there. The big claim that almost every Baptist minister with whom I discussed soteriology (with the exception of Reformed Baptists) is that they are not Calvinist or Arminian. They usually try to explain their positions, and of course, it's almost always the Classical Arminian position.

Why is this? Why do so many Baptist ministers hold to Arminian theology, but think they're in the middle? Along these same lines, why do so many think that regular Calvinism is "Hyper-Calvinism"? Well, here's why I think they're confused. It's because the guys who claim to be Arminian, or are at least labeled as such in their churches, are actually full blown Pelagians.

I've talked to A LOT of these "Arminian" baptists who run in these circles, and I've got news for everyone, they're not Arminians. The pastors are usually Arminians, but these guys who have the label hung on them within these churches are usually Pelagians. They believe that man has free will and is capable of choosing good on his own. They don't believe man needs prevenient grace. In an attempt to argue that each man is responsible for what he does, and God has no choice in the matter, they argue that man's spiritual nature is free. He is not bound by his love of self in sin to one choice only.

So, of course, when they get mislabled as Arminians, the actual Arminians think that they are either Calvinists, and real Calvinists are Hyper-Calvinists, or they realize they're not Calvinists, but think that they're therefore something in between.

Of course, as I've argued before (and thousands of others have said many times before), there is no in between position that is consistent. When you accept certain elements of a soteriological system, you can't just take out some and leave others that are dependent upon one another. It functions like a stack of cards. You may be able to remove a single one from the top and be OK, but remove any one of the rest, and it's over.

So I actually think that Baptist Churches have a problem. By mislabeling themselves as "In Betweeners" who are not Arminian, they're not dealing with a massive amount of "Arminians" who should be rebuked and placed under church discipline if they do not repent of their heresy. And Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism are heresies that undermine the gospel and often contort it into another gospel altogether. It's time to call a spade a spade, an Arminian an Arminian, and a Pelagian a Pelagian, and leave the "sensible" nonexistent "middle" position on the doorstep of reality. You're not being balanced by mislabeling things. You're being unfaithful by not speaking against heresy in your midst. So honesty is the best policy. Learn the positions. Learn what you are, and then you can see what others who do not carry the Christian message in your assemblies really are.

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