Friday, August 14, 2009

Arminian Myth #6

From Arminian Theology by Roger E. Olson

Myth #6: Arminianism is a human-centered theology.

Truth: An optimistic anthropology is alien to true Arminianism, which is thoroughly God-centered. Arminian theology confesses human depravity, including bondage of the will.

Jacob Arminius believed in the bondage of the will. Any good in human life only came because prevenient grace had freed the will first. In Arminian theology, free will is more appropriately called "freed will."

The power to believe for salvation man couldn't do on his own. That power had to be divinely conferred on man.

When man sinned, human beings became incapable of responding to God for salvation.

"Grace is the beginning and continuation of spiritual life, including the ability to exercise a good will toward God." (Olson 144)

Simon Episcopious taught that in the fallen state, apart from God's special prevenient grace, man has no free will to do any spiritual good.

After surveying various Arminian theologians, Olson concludes, "With the sole exception of Limborch and some of his followers, then, Arminius and his seventeenth- and eighteenth-century followers embraced the doctrines of original sin and total depravity. They affirmed the bondage of the will to sin in a manner reminiscent of Luther and Calvin." (150)

Arminian theologian William Burton Pope surely cannot be accused of a man-centered theology when he writes, "No ability remains in man to return to God; and this avowal concedes and vindicates the pith of original sin as internal. The natural man ... is without the power even to co-operate with Divine influence. The co-operation with grace is of grace. Thus it keeps itself for ever safe from Pelgianism and semi-Pelgianism." (Olson 154)

Olson sums up this way: "The moral ability to respond to the gospel freely--by the graciously freed will--is a free gift of God through Christ to all people in some measure. It does not mean that anyone can now seek and find God using natural ability alone! It is a supernatural endowment that can be and usually is rejected or neglected. According to Arminian theology, because of Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit all people are being influenced toward the good; the deadly wound of Adam's sin is being healed. And yet their fallen nature is still with them." (155)

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