Monday, 8 October 2012

Protestant Alliance's Arminian Confusion



When I saw that an Arminian Methodist was to speak at the Annual Meeting of the Protestant Alliance in The Reformer magazine, I was shocked.  Upon examining Penn Free Methodist Church’s website, I saw that the speaker (Peter Simpson) was quite clearly a classic Arminian.  But how could a magazine entitled The Reformer invite a speaker whom the Reformers would have deemed a heretic?
I wrote to Dr. Scott-Pearson of the Protestant Alliance to state my concern and to call him to examine this matter.  From the response I received, it does not appear that the doctor understands what Arminianism actually is.  We cannot blame him as many do not.  Many Christians think that Arminianism is the exact opposite of Calvinism; they wrongly call the Pelagians or semi-Pelagians of today 'Arminians'.  Many do not realise that Arminianism is actually subtly similar to Calvinism (a term I dislike; I prefer the term ‘Gospel’).  Arminianism is only different in that it teaches that, although men are elected to salvation by God, Christ died for each individual that ever existed and one can cast off the work of the Holy Spirit at any time.  For a closer examination of the five points of Arminianism, please view this article:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_Articles_of_Remonstrance

So, let’s examine Simpson’s views and see if they match with the original Arminianism of the Remonstrance and, thus, whether Scott-Pearson is right or wrong.
Firstly, on Simpson’s website for Penn Free Methodist Church, they boast that ‘some of the preachers who first ministered to the congregation here had been personally appointed by John Wesley’.  I’m not sure why anyone would advertise this fact unless they were not aware of the fact that Wesley taught the false doctrine of Sinless Perfectionism.  This is not a good start for Scott-Pearson…
To establish that he is a classical Arminian, according to the articles of the Remonstrance, Simpson should believe that Christ loved and laid down His life for everyone:  ‘The need of the hour is for each individual to repent of sin, and to come to Jesus Christ, who, out of love for us, warned us…’  So, according to Simpson, Christ loved each individual.  I’d be wary of putting words into Christ’s mouth after He clearly says otherwise to the church at Laodicea:
Revelation 3:19  As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
If Christ loves everyone then He must have given Himself as a sacrifice for everyone, atoning for all sins.  After all, Paul said:
Ephesians 5:25  Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it…
Simpson’s language is identical to that of one who holds to the Arminian doctrine of Universal Atonement.
The second doctrine to be established is that Simpson believes God’s grace is resistible:  He does so by drawing men to himself, working upon their hearts and consciences by means of the Holy Spirit, and thereby giving to them the potential to believe.
'Remember that he is also able to cease drawing men, and to leave them in their unbelief. Therefore it is imperative that if you feel him drawing you, you respond whilst there is time...’
So, God only gives men the potential to believe, according to Simpson.  This logically implies that they can choose to resist the Spirit of God and stop themselves from being drawn by God.  Further to this, God can just start and stop drawing people at random so one had better exercise whatever potential they’ve been given before God changes His mind, according to Simpson.


I find the Lord Jesus debunks this nonsense most succinctly:
John 6:37, 39, 44  All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.
No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
There is nothing here about giving man the potential to make a choice; the choice has been made by God in Christ from before the foundation of the world, according to Ephesians 1.  All of those chosen shall come and those drawn by the Father will be raised to eternal life at the last day, according to the Lord Jesus in verse 44 above.
Simpson therefore believes in the two distinguishing marks of a classic Arminian Remonstrant.  The Reformers who met together at the Synod of Dordt classified this as a heresy!
I find, then, the title of the magazine - The Reformer - to be a misnomer.  I do wonder how the Reformers would view Peter Simpson's doctrines; I wonder how the Earl of Shaftesbury (the founder of the Protestant Alliance) would feel about this lax attitude.  

It becomes apparent that Scott-Pearson does not know what Arminianism is when he writes statements like these:
‘We…are quite unable to concur that [Peter Simpson] holds to “classic Arminian beliefs”.’
I have shown that he does.  But, further to this, Scott-Pearson wrote that Peter Simpson has an 'excellent position with regard to the Gospel'.  The Protestant Alliance is 'required to embrace all shades of BIBLICAL Protestantism'!
According to the Reformed position, which Scott-Pearson claims to represent by the title of the Protestant Alliance’s magazine, there is little that is biblical or Reformed about Peter Simpson's Gospel.  In fact, it was condemned as a heresy.

Please join me in praying for Scott-Pearson and Simpson and for the Protestant Alliance as a whole; how they need discernment and consistency in their understanding and teaching.

1 comment:

  1. Honorary Doctorate from Bob Jones University. Other famous people who were awarded academic titles
    Cliff Barrows, long-time music and program director for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
    Billy Kim, past president, Baptist World Alliance
    Tim LaHaye, best-selling author of eschatological fiction
    Billy Graham, evangelist (1948)
    Ian Paisley, founder and moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster; future leader of the Democratic Unionist Party and First Minister of Northern Ireland (1966)


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