Puritan Gems

Friday, July 03, 2009

Justification by Calvinism?

And I thought I was a doctrinal hardcase...

There is an interesting discussion on the Puritan Board concerning Arminianism and Salvation. Not a few posters have expressed the belief that Arminianism in any form disqualifies one from the kingdom of God.

As a former "saved Arminian" who knows quite a few saved Arminians, I needed to take exception to such a broad sweeping statement. The difficulty comes in trying to define what Arminianism is. Granted, the classic historical Arminian belief system is incompatible with Biblical Christianity. Fortunately, there are very few pure Arminians today. The vast majoity of those who call themselves Arminians would be shocked at what Arminianism actually teaches (ie. Christ death offered no payment for sins, etc.)

The question is whether one can obtain saving faith and still be in error about how that faith was obtained. I would answer in the affirmative. The Galatian Church taught justification by works. Paul unapologetically refuted the error, but never once suggested that the Galatian Church was anything other than a true church. We need the grace to recognize that "The purest Churches under heaven are subject both to mixture and error" (WCF Chapter XXV:V.).

Arminianism in any form is a gross error, and we should do all in our power to correct it. But there is an equal danger of adding "Belief in Calvinism" to the Ordo Salutis, and teaching "Justification by Calvinism". I'm just not there.

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