Are We Still Arminians?

Reading John Meuniers Blog this morning was very interesting since some of my very closest friends have left the Arminian Camp for the Calvinist camp that espouses irresistible grace and total predestination (God decides before we are born whether he will extend his grace to a person). As a preachers kid in the Pilgrim Holiness Church that merged with the Wesleyan Methodist Church to become the Wesleyan Church in 1968 I had always been taught that all had been invited to receive God’s grace, but they had a choice. In his blog today John Meuiner quoted John Wesley’s position and I attach it here for your benefit and as a resource.

The errors charged upon these (usually termed Arminians) by their opponents, are five: (1.) That they deny original sin; (2.) That they deny justification by faith; (3.) That they deny absolute predestination; (4.) That they deny the grace of God to be irresistible; and, (5.) That they affirm, a believer may fall from grace.

With regard to the two first of these charges, they plead, Not Guilty. They are entirely false. No man that ever lived, not John Calvin himself, ever asserted either original sin, or justification by faith, in more strong, more clear and express terms, than Arminius has done. These two points, therefore, are to be set out of the question: In these both parties agree. In this respect, there is not a hair’s breadth difference between Mr. Wesley and Mr. Whitefield.

But there is an undeniable difference between the Calvinists and Arminians, with regard to the three other questions. Here they divide; the former believe absolute, the latter only conditional, predestination. The Calvinists hold, (1.) God has absolutely decreed, from all eternity, to save such and such persons, and no others; and that Christ died for these, and none else. The Arminians hold, God has decreed, from all eternity, touching all that have the written word, “He that believeth shall be saved: He that believeth not, shall be condemned:” And in order to this, “Christ died for all, all that were dead in trespasses and sins;” that is, for every child of Adam, since “in Adam all died.”

The Calvinists hold, Secondly, that the saving grace of God is absolutely irresistible; that no man is any more able to resist it, than to resist the stroke of lightning. The Arminians hold, that although there may be some moments wherein the grace of God acts irresistibly, yet, in general, any man may resist, and that to his eternal ruin, the grace whereby it was the will of God he should have been eternally saved.

The Calvinists hold, Thirdly, that a true believer in Christ cannot possibly fall from grace. The Arminians hold, that a true believer may “make shipwreck of faith and a good conscience;” that he may fall, not only foully, but finally, so as to perish for ever.

I would imagine that very few United Methodist are even aware of this debate not its importance. Lord help us!

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Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving?
Today as I was driving to my office, listening to a Christian Radio station the voices of a number of people were heard giving thanks for what they were thankful for. The radio station had solicited these remarks. I was very surprised to hear an adult male voice say: “I am thankful for candy corn.” I instantly went to the thought that has crossed my mind many times…is that it? Is that all there is to life? That is just NUTS! Children were heard giving thanks for brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers; very few were heard to give thanks for Jesus Christ and His gift of salvation. Wow! So giving thanks is relegated to “I am thankful for candy corn.”
In a small country church that I used to pastor there was one person who always said, “I love my little church” with emphasis on “little.” Sort of a veiled threat to not do anything to facilitate growth in his church after all it is his church you know. Many times I wondered if he was thankful that he was in control of the little church and if it got bigger he might not be able to control it any more. Sort of a candy corn thanksgiving, a lack of big picture thankfulness that makes me wonder how many people really know how to give thanks and who to give it to.
The English did not call the 1621 event a “thanksgiving.” A day of “thanksgiving” was very different for the colonists. It was a day of prayer to thank God when something really good happened. The English actually had their first thanksgiving in the summer of 1623. On this day they gave thanks for the rain that ended a long drought.
Using this paragraph from an online source on “Thanksgiving” we can get a picture that should help us give thanks.
1. It was a day of prayer to thank God when something really good happened.
A. Historically the first thanksgiving for the colonists was for thank God for a rain that ended a long drought.
B. Later these same colonists thanked God for their first and good harvest since arriving in the new country.
2. It is a day or period of days in which we focus on God and the good gifts that he has provided us. We are taught in the Bible, that through out the history of the chosen people of God there were times, places and events that elicited thanksgiving to God.
3. So, thanksgiving is a time to focus on God…not candy corn.
4. So what am I thankful for?
i. Jesus and the forgiveness of sin
ii. The Church and fellowship with God and other believers
iii. The Bible and the Word that it presents to us
iv. Communion and the remembering that it brings
v. My family
a. Parents and the memories of my Father and LeAnn’s Father and Mother who have gone to be with Jesus.
b. My brother…even though we aren’t as close as I would like to be.
c. My wife who is possibly the Godliest person I know
d. My Children, Donna (Jim), Marsha (Mike), Chad & Lauren
e. My Grandchildren: Trevor, Brayden, Zachary, Alexis, Ashton
f. My closest friends; to many to name
g. My Accountability group from New Albany
h. The call to ordained ministry
i. The church & Senior Pastor I now serve in a small way; Center UMC
j. Freedom to worship God without fear of reprisal
k. Roof over my head, clothes to wear, food to eat & transportation
l. Reasonable health/decent insurance plan
m. The valuable lessons I have learned through living and experiencing community
n. Intellectual interchange and stimulating conversation with friends.
o. The desire to research God’s Word for deeper and clearer understanding
p. Spiritually stimulating worship experiences
q. Experiencing God
r. Helping others experience God
s. Great Christian Music that stimulates my worship experiences
t. The gentle touch of a close friend
u. Making new friends
v. Honest laughter
w. Tears of joy
x. Words of encouragement
y. Dreams of Heaven
z. Hearing: Enter in to your reward my good and faithful servant.
Isn’t interesting that I never got to candy corn, prime rib, green bean casserole or Blue Bunny chocolate Ice cream. Isn’t it interesting that I never got to the Republican, Democrat, or Tea Party. Isn’t it interesting that I never got to Face book, You Tube, Google, Android or television. Isn’t it interesting that I never got to President Obama, Sarah Palin, CNN or Fox News. Isn’t interesting that I never got to Feminist Theology, The enlightenment, Scientology, New Age, various forms of Biblical criticism. Isn’t it interesting that I never got to the new Rudeness movement in the U. S. especially among the political camps and talk show hosts.
Renewing our understanding of who we are to give thanks to and why; should stop the frivolous remarks like, “I’m thankful for candy corn.” Let’s spend some time during this season reflecting on God and what God has done for us…and be really thankful.

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Almost Christian

From Kenda Creasy Dean’s book Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers is Telling the American Church:

What if the blasé religiosity of most American teenagers is not the result of poor communication but the result of excellent communication of a watered-down gospel so devoid of God’s self-giving love in Jesus Christ, so immune to the sending love of the Holy Spirit that it might not be Christianity at all? What if the church models a way of life that asks, not passionate surrender but ho-hum assent? What if we are preaching moral affirmation, a feel-better faith, and a hands-off God instead of the decisively involved, impossibly loving, radically sending God of Abraham and Mary, who desired us enough to enter creation in Jesus Christ and whose Spirit is active in the church and in the world today? If this is the case – if theological malpractice explains teenagers’ half-hearted religious identities – then perhaps most young people practiceMoralistic Therapeutic Deism not because they reject Christianity, but because this is the only “Christianity” they know.

 

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Almost Christian

From Kenda Creasy Dean’s book Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers is Telling the American Church:

What if the blasé religiosity of most American teenagers is not the result of poor communication but the result of excellent communication of a watered-down gospel so devoid of God’s self-giving love in Jesus Christ, so immune to the sending love of the Holy Spirit that it might not be Christianity at all? What if the church models a way of life that asks, not passionate surrender but ho-hum assent? What if we are preaching moral affirmation, a feel-better faith, and a hands-off God instead of the decisively involved, impossibly loving, radically sending God of Abraham and Mary, who desired us enough to enter creation in Jesus Christ and whose Spirit is active in the church and in the world today? If this is the case – if theological malpractice explains teenagers’ half-hearted religious identities – then perhaps most young people practice Moralistic Therapeutic Deism not because they reject Christianity, but because this is the only “Christianity” they know.

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Psalm 77:13

The New Century Version of the Holy Bible translates Psalm 77:13 “God, your ways are holy. No god is as great as our God.” Since I am a Christian in the Wesleyan tradition this is the Word of
God for the people of God and it is true and trust worthy. Since God’s ways are holy we are called as believers to obey his commands and teachings and honor him as the one true God. So how hard is that? Since we are bombarded daily with the thoughts and activities of the world our sense of God’s greatness is weakened and we seem to humanize Him, thus making Him weak and irrelevant to a dying world. On a recent evening on the television show “Bones” one of the stars ridiculed all faith practices and especially Christianity. This kind of constant anti Christian diatribe becomes fact to the less discerning people and they are drawn away from the good news of Jesus Christ. “Bones” is not the only program to be trying to lead people away from God but it is a prime example. Lord help us to remain true to you in all we say and do.

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When Is Discrimination Not Really Discrimination?

Here in Indianapolis, Indiana a group of avowed homosexuals went to a bakery that makes cookies and asked the baker to make some rainbow cookies for an event they were having. The baker responded that it would be against his religion to do so and refused. The group then complained that they were being discriminated against and the manager of the city market says that he will most likely cancel the lease of the bakery for discrimination. He went on to say that he would not tolerate discrimination. Isn’t this an act of discrimination against the religious beliefs of the baker? I think so!

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Lord I want to see

In Luke 18:35-43 we have the story of the Blind Beggar. Jesus asks him “What do you want me to do for you?” and the blind man replies, “Lord, I want to see! As I pondered this the thought came to me that in some sense (s) I too am blind and want the Lord to grant me sight. Sometimes I am blind to the serious needs of others. Sometimes I am blind to the loneliness of friends and acquaintances. Sometimes I am impatient with demanding people. Sometimes I want to scream “get a grip” to those who wallow in self pity. Sometimes I want to move to a cave and spend my time contemplating God with out the interruptions of everyday life. Sometimes I want to make rude people nice. Sometimes I wish for a men’s only day at the grocery store, and sometimes I wish I had a driver to keep me out of trouble. Sometimes I wish that I could communicate so well that every person would understand about Jesus and his gift of salvation. You know…Lord…I just want to see like you see! Lord help me! Lord help us see!

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