written by: Keith Drury
(Look over Keith Drury’s Shoulder as he answers his mail)
I read your explanation of TULIP in the article Triumph of Arminianism and can’t believe how you Wesleyan-types ignore the plain teaching of Scripture. What are your verses for the Arminian position? I find none. I challenge you to list your proof texts in an orderly way and I will refute them. If you Arminians are going to pose an alternative belief system you are obligated to offer your verses. I will post them. In fact I invite you to debate the issue is our forum (location deleted) I dare you to list your verses–but I know you won’t. Why? Because your Arminians know they won’t stand up under serious scrutiny. Your way of thinking is prevailing only because it is more popular with the world, and humanist thinking, not because of quality expositions of the Holy Scriptures. I challenge you to respond with your verses. (Extensive list of proof texts for Calvinism included in original email) –Young Pastor
Nice try. However, I must decline your invitation to a proof text Wrestlemania. Hey, I started out as a “Five Pointer” so I know your proof texts well enough. I am not obligated to offer my alternative texts to you for several reasons. First, we don’t use Scripture that way. To join you in a proof text duel I’d have to accept your proof-text approach to Scripture. I don’t–it is wrong headed and an illicit use of God’s Holy Word. While I believe you are a part of historic Orthodoxy, your use of the Bible has too much in common with the Jehovah’s Witnesses’. I take a totally different approach to Scripture and believe your proof-text approach is out of bounds.
But the real reason I’m not responding with a list of proof texts is we don’t have to prove anything–you do. Wesleyan Arminianism is not an alternative system of belief to Calvinism. Most Calvinists think this way because they are enamored with their fancy human-devised system of belief. You are like the end-times people, complete with your own set of charts and ingenious systems of thought and explanations of verses you’ve found here and there. It is a wonderful human system and all fits together perfectly! It is truly a marvelous Rube Goldberg creation! You thus dismiss the Arminian approach because you consider your elaborate system so superior to the Arminian non-system.
But it won’t work. There is no systematic “Arminian belief system.” Frankly, we agree on just about everything–probably as much as 95% of your approach to orthodoxy–maybe more. So what are Aminians? We are unbelievers. We accept everything you say except five propositions: TULIP which we disbelieve. All the rest we agree on these five notions Calvin has not convinced us. Nor have you. So, we do not offer the complete alternative belief system you desire. We just believe everything you say except five things. And, many Arminians even will go half way with you on some of those points (as my article does). Arminianism isn’t really an alternative system to Calvinism but is a “slightly revised Calvinism.” We buy almost everything you say but we don’t buy it all. You’ve not proved those five points well enough yet for us to buy it.
So, we don’t have to prove anything to you. We are not obligated to send you lists of Scripture to convince you of the rightness of our position. We are the unbelievers–you’ve not convinced us yet. Since we don’t have the same assumptions on using Scripture as you do, when you fire a salvo of Scripture verses across the fence from inside the walls of your gradually-dying denominations they land as duds. We are impervious to proof text salvos and they convince us of nothing. So, after hundreds of years of trying to convince the Christian world of the last 5% of Calvinism you have lost most everything except the P. (And to do that you had to give in and allow for “they were never saved in the first place.”) What you’ve got in today’s world are a tiny few five point Calvinists with lots of time on their hands, and a massive number of half-point Calvinists running the rest of Christianity. You’ve not made much progress have you? You’re losing ground every year in the battle to convince the rest of us. Yet you keep writing to us to get us to convince you by sending you a list of proof texts supporting Arminianism! Sorry.
C’mon–you’re in trouble not us. You can’t ask us to submit our verses to your court of approval–you are the ones who need to do some better convincing. You’re losing ground. You don’t even know how to convince us of this system of thought. You really think your proof-text method will work–and when it doesn’t you decry the church as unbiblical.
Most of modern Christianity is still unconvinced of your five propositions. That goes for your own people too. I get emails from your lay people every week on the subject. They claim that I have described Calvinism wrongly–then go on to describe a Baptist-Arminian position and claim that is what Calvinism really is. It must be frustrating for you –even your own soldiers don’t buy it! Which might make for good preaching though. Like the old Princeton joke goes: “QUESTION: How come Presbyterians have the best preachers in the world?” ANSWER: “They have to get up every Sunday morning and defend Calvinism.”
So, I won’t be submitting my list of proof texts for your consideration. You only seek the young child to kill it. Instead, we Arminians & Charismatics (and a host of “practicing Arminians” in your own denomination) will keep starting missionary organizations, founding new colleges, publishing discipleship materials, launching new para-church organizations, planting churches, and reaching the lost while you carefully polish your elaborately designed system, rearranging your proof texts as you wonder why people just don’t see it your way.
However, as one who values history I do appreciate it that you care enough about this system of thought to preserve it. You have become the theological Amish of the Christian church. You are interesting, but not convincing.
So what do you think?
February 2003. To suggest additional insights write to Keith@TuesdayColumn.com
©2003 Keith Drury
Keith Drury served The Wesleyan Church headquarters in Christian Education and Youth leadership for 24 years before becoming a professor of religion at Indiana Wesleyan University. He is the author of more than a dozen books of practical spirituality, including Holiness for Ordinary People, Common Ground and Ageless Faith. Keith Drury wrote the Tuesday Column for 17 years (1995-2012), and many articles can be found on his blog “Drury Writing.”
Keith Drury retired from full time teaching in 2012. Keith is married to Sharon and has two adult sons and several grandchildren. He is retired in Florida with Sharon and enjoys cycling.