Arminianism FAQ 3 (Everything You Always Wanted to Know…)
by Roger Olson
July 9, 2014
FAQ: Doesn’t Arminianism lead to open theism?
Answer (A): Open theists and Calvinists both think so, but classical Arminianism don’t think so.
According to classical Arminianism, God knows the future exhaustively–as already settled in his own mind although not already determined.
How God can know future free decisions and actions (ones not already determined by anything) is a mystery classical Arminians are willing to live with because they believe it (divine simple foreknowledge without comprehensive divine determinism) is taught in Scripture and because it is the only alternative to other views of God’s foreknowledge they (classical Arminians) cannot embrace.
There is no logical contradiction in this mystery. Every theology includes mysteries at some points. So do the natural sciences.
FAQ: Can an Arminian resolve the mystery of divine foreknowledge with Molinism?
Molinism - "Molinism, named after 16th Century Jesuit theologian Luis de Molina, is a religious doctrine which attempts to reconcile the providence of God with human free will. William Lane Craig andAlvin Plantinga are some of its best known advocates today, though other important Molinists include Alfred Freddoso and Thomas Flint. In basic terms, Molinists hold that in addition to knowing everything that does or will happen, God also knows what His creatures would freely choose if placed in any circumstance." - Wikipedia
A: Some classical Arminians think so. Others do not. Two unsettled questions bedevil this intra-Arminian debate:
First, is a philosophical one: Is “counterfactual of libertarian freedom a viable concept?”
Second, is a theological one: “Can God make use of middle knowledge (assuming he has such knowledge) in arranging human affairs without determining them?”
Classical Arminians are divided about these questions and their answers.
FAQ: Doesn’t Arminianism imply that the “decisive element in salvation” is the sinner’s free decision to accept Christ, thereby giving saved persons permission to boast of partially meriting their salvation?
A: No. Under no circumstances would a person freely receiving a free gift be thought to have merited it simply because he/she accepted it. A gift received is still a gift. Everyone knows this.
The only exception is Calvinists who accuse Arminianism of importing merit into the free acceptance of salvation. But those same Calvinists would never allow someone to whom they gave a gift to claim they merited it.
FAQ: Doesn’t Arminianism lead to liberalism in theology?
A: No more than Calvinism does.
Friedrich Schleiermacher, the “father of liberal theology,” was a Calvinist who became liberal without ever embracing Arminianism.
Many, perhaps most, 19th century liberals (in theology) were raised Calvinist and, seeing the damage it does to God’s character, jumped into liberal theology without ever even considering Arminianism.
Evangelical Arminianism is conservative theologically. Some evangelical Arminians are fundamentalists. Most have never been tempted by liberal theology.
There is no logical or historical connection between classical Arminianism and liberal theology.
FAQ: Is the first principle of Arminianism free will?
A: It is not.
The first principle is God revealed in Jesus Christ or, put another way, Jesus Christ as the full and perfect revelation of the character of God.
Arminians only believe in libertarian free will (power of contrary choice) because:
1) It is implied throughout Scripture,
2) It alone preserves God from being monstrous (Calvinism's divine election to hell, etc), and,
3) It is an experienced reality necessary for responsibility.