Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Are You an Arminian?

I was asked in a religious conversation a few years ago if I was an Arminian. I had to go the internet to find out. Yes, according to the Wikipedia article on arminianism, the Churches of Christ tend to be Arminian. (As do Methodists, Anglicans, Free Will Baptists and others.) Upon reading the article, though, I tend to think in different categories than that. It seems to me we have free will to do what is right or wrong. In part that is because all my life, I have heard the doctrine of predestination, the understanding of which Arminius (a Dutchman - 1560-1609) sought to change, derogated many times from the pulpit in my lifetime. Sometimes the term Calvinism was used interchangeably for this. I did not know that there was a name, arminianism, for the competing doctrine. I guess we tend to call our own beliefs "the truth" and the beliefs of others with whom we disagree by some name ending in "ist" or "ism".

Here is something John Wesley said about it in answering the question "What is an Arminian?"

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

I've always liked the sound of the word, probably because I once had a friend back in the 70's who was of Armenian heritage. This is one of those accidents of sound, Armenia and Arminius are not associated.

We have all kinds of beliefs and cultural predispositions that we are hardly aware of. I enjoy doing the mental archaeology the find out what and why these are.

1 comment:

Deutero Q said...

Hi Steve,

I was reading some blogs from various theological perspectives and came across yours--the same day I posted "Arminian Grace" on my blog. (It is sung to the tune of "Amazing Grace.") Anyway, here it is, just for fun!

Arminian "grace!" How strange the sound,
Salvation hinged on me.
I once was lost then turned around,
Was blind then chose to see.

What "grace" is it that calls for choice,
Made from some good within?
That part that wills to heed God's voice,
Proved stronger than my sin.

Thru many ardent gospel pleas,
I sat with heart of stone.
But then some hidden good in me,
Propelled me toward my home.

When we've been there ten thousand years,
Because of what we've done,
We've no less days to sing our praise,
Than when we first begun.

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