Arminianism – 1% Milk?
March 16, 2012, 10:44 am
Filed under: Arminianism

written by Christopher Macfarlane

Spilling the Misconception

It’s a common thing to hear many refer to Arminianism as “milk” and reformed theology (Calvinism) as “meat”. The idea is that Arminianism is food for infant, or newly converted, Christians, whereas the tenets of reformed theology are the food of the spiritually mature Christian. It seems  that this is the case because many found that they were introduced to the Bible and the idea of Jesus in Arminian churches. I realize this isn’t always the case, but certainly Arminian churches are numerous.  Let’s just briefly run through the list of Arminian beliefs. This list is a short summary of the Five articles of Remonstrance of 1610, put together by Arminians in order to serve as Calvinistic corrections, and mainly as a protestation against the Belgic Confession

1) They believe that humanity has free will.
This means that man is free to accept or reject the gospel apart from any predetermination of God or constraints from their own sinful nature. In other words, God had no say in their decision making process and their own sinful nature had not kept them rejecting God. They were able to make the decision themselves.

2) They believe in prevenient grace.
Though the Arminian believes he made the decision himself, they’d say that there was still some work on God’s part beforehand. Since the Scriptures are clear that man is naturally hostile to God, enslaved to sin, and dead in sin, the Arminian must deal with the texts. And they do. They believe in what is called prevenient grace, the belief that God gives everyone grace, and the function of this grace is that of bringing everyone to a morally neutral state whereby they can then choose good or evil. So they are like freed and yet simultaneously enslaved to sin. A distinction must be made here – there are those called Pelagians who believe humanity has the ability to believe or reject the gospel apart from any work of God. They just naturally have it in them. The Arminian will at least adhere to the prevenient grace view.

3) They believe in conditional election. 
Scripture plainly speaks of God having an elect and chosen people. The Arminian believes that God elected them and had chosen them beforehand based upon having seen that they would believe in the future. So, ultimately, the decision was made by the person.

4) They believe in universal atonement.
Arminians believe that Christ’s death on the cross was given equally to every single individual that has and will ever exist. His payment on the cross sits there, waiting to be made effectual by those who accept it. Often likened to a free gift package that is waiting for you at the post office. You just have to go pick it up. They would reject that it has any power in and of itself to alter the number of the elect.

5) They believe in resistable grace.
Arminians believe that although God gives grace to everyone, “saving grace” can be rejected by men, even those who are regenerate. In other words, you can lose your salvation. They would see any opposite view as a violation of free will. Now, not every church is necessarily historically Arminian on this point. Many Arminians would adhere to what is commonly called “eternal security”. This is the view that once you are regenerate, you can’t lose your salvation. Unfortunately, this seems to be the litmus test for professing “reformed” guys and how they view Arminians. Some have said, “I find this man to be a brother because he holds to eternal security.” But this view only darkens the Arminian view, and especially the modern view.

It shows that not only has each point thus far been wholly inconsistent with Scripture, but the inconsistency only expands, now philosophically, within the Arminian view. And though this inconsistency is glaring, it serves as a brighter light, exposing the horrific nature of this entire worldview. Men like Norman Geisler have accused the view of Unconditional Election (the view that God elects men apart from any work they have done) to be a description of “divine rape”, where God forces a person into a relationship (like a rapist would), apart from the decision of the “victim”. Ironically, Norm also holds to “eternal security – the view that once you are in this “relationship”, you can’t get out. This also, given his definition, could constitute “divine rape”.


Now, I ask you. Does this sound like milk to you? Does this sound like a lesser form of Calvinism? Certainly not. To believe that is to misunderstand history. The men who penned these points didn’t seek to create a softer form of Calvinism. Their intention was to create counter arguments. These points were intended to protest Calvinism. I wonder how anyone could go through these points and find these points to be milk, as though they were quickly formulated by men who were ignorant of Scripture. Let me clarify, I believe these men were ignorant of Scripture in that they didn’t understand its meaning. But although they were ignorant in regard to understanding, they certainly were not ignorant in regard to knowing Bible verses. Such a declaration of “Arminianism = milk! Calvinism = meat!” appears to be arbitrary, but I won’t let it slide so easily.

I think the real problem is that people either want to hang on to their Arminianism as seniority in the faith, or don’t want to think that their family members are unregenerate. I know that sounds harsh, but I’ve found that people will usually bring up their family members as arguments. Most commonly, the evidence is placed upon the works of the individual – saying that they are out doing missions, involved in church, gave up everything, weep when they preach the Bible, have ‘powerful’ life changing testimonies, etc. But many people from many false religions have done the same exact thing. In fact, some religions are way more hard core when it comes to “serving”. Take the Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons. Those guys do work. Granted, it’s for completely wrong reasons, but many of them give up everything, get involved, do missions, and cry when they give their testimonies, etc. All the while, these false religions reject the God of the Scriptures, saying they would never serve a “Monster like the ‘Calvinist god!'”

Instead of ending on an accusatory note, I also realize that people are ignorant. Some might accept Arminianism because they don’t even know what it really is, or what the differences are. They see it as meaning the same things. Arminianism uses the same language, but undoubtedly means very different things – words like Jesus, atonement, election, etc. These might say that they believe their Arminian family members are believers based on their confession. And this is a good thing to base it on. Unfortunately, it is a decision wrought in ignorance. So they must be explained the meaning of this worldview and left with a decision to make.

In conclusion, this milk and meat accusation is completely asinine and should be rejected. As I mentioned in my last article [here], give some respect to the Arminians! That doesn’t mean accept them as brothers. It means not treating them like they are milky, barely saved, 1 % Christians! When I speak to the Arminian, I assume that I am not speaking to a bumbling idiot who thinks the number 3 and the color orange are the same thing. I realize that many of them thoroughly know what they believe and spend time learning to defend it Scripturally. All in all, the ascription seems like a cop out and yet another point of postmodern penetration into truth.

5 Comments so far
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Very good point, Christopher. Arminianism is not a “dumbed-down” version of the gospel of Scripture. It is another gospel. Those who profess it should not be treated as brethren in Christ, but religious people who need to hear the good news of salvation and righteousness conditioned on Christ alone. This means they should be truly loved, and not offered false hope.

Comment by John Pedersen

Hey, in your article about arminian view of prevenient grace, that definitely isn’t my understanding from Augustine. He explained by Gods sovereign grace toward the elect of all who will irresistiblely believe (the meaning of prevenient grace). So, maybe arminius distorted that definition, which apparently is the case. Any thoughts on that?

Comment by craig

Craig, yah you are right about Augustine. Prevenient grace is just a fancy way of saying “preceding grace.” Augustine believed it couldn’t be resisted, whereas Arminians do.


Comment by Sovereign Grace Society

Unlimited Atonement: False teachers among YOU deny the Master who bought YOU. 2 Peter. 2.1. Proof that the atonement covers ALL.

Comment by Biblebasher.


Comment by Marc

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