A Puritan’s (Deluded) Mind

“Whoever speaks the truth gives honest evidence, but a false witness utters deceit.” – Prov. 12:17

A Puritan’s (Deluded) Mind

Calvinist C. Matthew McMahon, of A Puritan’s Mind, writes the following with regards to what he thinks Arminius taught:

“Arminius also taught that his “god” can be frustrated by the will of man because men choose their own destiny and that “god” allows them to do what they want to do without interfering.  Not only is this “god” later to be deemed the “god of deism”, but it demonstrates that Arminius’ “god” plans salvation in a way that may not be effectuated. This “god” has offered salvation, but cannot actually bring about the happiness of the creature since man is autonomous and has, as Arminius taught, “a free will.”  This means that man’s neutrality (denying total depravity) in “willing anything” is based on a choice that is never inclined toward good or evil.  Arminius though is very wrong not only about how salvation works, but the nature of man as well.  This “neutrality” is actually a smokescreen.  Not only is everyone born under the fall of Adam totally depraved and sinful, but their wills are never neutral.  Men only have sinful inclinations (Gen. 6:5).  They are not neutral in any choice they ever make.  Neutrality would mean they have an aversion to good or evil, but the Bible teaches men are inherently evil as a result of Adam’s fall and disobedience.  Romans 5:12 emphatically states, “… just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned…” Arminius taught that there was an island of righteousness in every man which was unaffected by the fall and thus able to do “good.” … With Pelagius, Arminius said that all men are inherently free, and have a “free will”.  The fall of Adam has not rendered them incapable of doing good things.” 1

What strikes me is that McMahon constantly uses the term “Arminius taught,” or “Arminius said,” but not once does he quote Arminius, or at least cite his writings to substantiate his claims.  Either McMahon hasn’t done his research and doesn’t know what Arminius actually taught, in which case he has no right to presume to teach others about what Arminius taught, or he has done his research and knows what Arminius taught, in which case he is being dishonest about the issue.  

No other option exists, as McMahon is demonstrably dead wrong about the issue.

Letting Arminius speak for himself:

“In the state of Primitive Innocence, man had a mind endued with a clear understanding of heavenly light and truth concerning God, and his works and will, as far as was sufficient for the salvation of man and the glory of God; he had a heart imbued with ‘righteousness and true holiness,’ and with a true and saving love of good; and powers abundantly qualified or furnished perfectly to fulfill the law which God had imposed on him.  This admits easily of proof, from the description of the image of God, after which man is said to have been created, (Gen 1:26-27) from the law divinely imposed on him, which had a promise and a threat appended to it, (Gen 2:17) and lastly from the analogous restoration of the same image in Christ Jesus. (Eph 4:24, Col 3:10)

But man was not so confirmed in this state of innocence, as to be incapable of being moved, by the representation presented to him of some good, (whether it was of an inferior kind and relating to this animal life, or of a superior-kind and relating to spiritual life) inordinately and unlawfully to look upon it and to desire it, and of his own spontaneous as well as free motion, and through a preposterous desire for that good, to decline from the obedience which had been prescribed to him.  Nay, having turned away from the light of his own mind and his chief good, which is God, or, at least, having turned towards that chief good not in the manner in which he ought to have done, and besides having turned in mind and heart towards an inferior good, he transgressed the command given to him for life.  By this foul deed, he precipitated himself from that noble and elevated condition into a state of the deepest infelicity, which is under the dominion of sin.  For ‘to whom any one yields himself a servant to obey,’ (Rom 6:16) and ‘of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage,’ and is his regularly assigned slave. (2 Pet 2:19)

In this state, the free will of man towards the true good is not only wounded, maimed, infirm, bent, and weakened; but it is also imprisoned, destroyed, and lost.  And its powers are not only debilitated and useless unless they be assisted by grace, but it has no powers whatever except such as are excited by Divine grace.  For Christ has said, ‘Without me ye can do nothing.’  St. Augustine, after having diligently meditated upon each word in this passage, speaks thus: ‘Christ does not say, without me ye can do but Little; neither does He say, without me ye can do any Arduous Thing, nor without me ye can do it with difficulty.  But he says, without me ye can do Nothing! Nor does he say, without me ye cannot complete any thing; but without me ye can do Nothing.’  That this may be made more manifestly to appear, we will separately consider the mind, the affections or will, and the capability, as contra-distinguished from them, as well as the life itself of an unregenerate man.” 2

Arminius further taught:

“This is my opinion concerning the free-will of man: In his primitive condition as he came out of the hands of his creator, man was endowed with such a portion of knowledge, holiness and power, as enabled him to understand, esteem, consider, will, and to perform the true good, according to the commandment delivered to him.  Yet none of these acts could he do, except through the assistance of Divine Grace.  But in his lapsed and sinful state, man is not capable, of and by himself, either to think, to will, or to do that which is really good; but it is necessary for him to be regenerated and renewed in his intellect, affections or will, and in all his powers, by God in Christ through the Holy Spirit, that he may be qualified rightly to understand, esteem, consider, will, and perform whatever is truly good.  When he is made a partaker of this regeneration or renovation, I consider that, since he is delivered from sin, he is capable of thinking, willing and doing that which is good, but yet not without the continued aids of Divine Grace.” 3

McMahon is dead wrong.  End of discussion.


1 McMahon, C. Matthew, The ‘god’ of Arminianism is Not Worshippable

2 Arminius, J., Complete Works of Arminius, Vol. 1, Public Disputations of Arminius, Disputation 11 (On the Free Will of Man and its Powers)

3 Ibid., Declaration of the Sentiments, 5:3

Calvinist: Arminianism is the Secular Man’s Salvation

“Arminianism was a form of Pelagianism that was not as extreme as Pelagianism, but more subtly destructive.  Pelagianism denied the fall of Adam as affecting men in any way. Arminianism did not go to that extreme, but did say men were not completely dead in sin. In both views, though, men work for their salvation by coming, of their own accord, to Christ, on their own strength, and they “decide” to follow Jesus.  Grace is good, and grace is helpful, but it is man that actually makes the difference… Arminianism, like its father Pelagianism, is the secular man’s salvation… Is the “god” of Arminianism the God of the Bible?  No.  Arminius did not plagiarize the bible; instead, he fabricated a brand new deity, or idol, for men to worship. The “god” of Arminianism is not the God of the Bible.  For Arminius’ “god” loves everyone equally, and sent his “Son” to die for all men equally.”

– C. Matthew McMahon, The ‘god’ of Arminianism is Not Worshippable

Cheung: There is No Sincere Offer of the Gospel

“The doctrine in question has been called “the free offer,” “the well-meant offer,” and “the sincere offer” of the gospel.  It is a false teaching that makes God into a schizophrenic fool. It is unbiblical and irrational, and it must be opposed.

We do not know beforehand who are numbered among the elect and who are numbered among the non-elect, and Scripture commands us to preach to every person.  Therefore, we must not try to decide who are the elect and the non-elect, and then preach the gospel only to those whom we consider the elect.  We must preach the gospel to all men.

That said, it is wrong to preach the gospel as if there is a chance for the non-elect to obtain faith and be saved, as if God is sincerely telling them that he desires their salvation and that they could be saved (Luke 10:21; John 6:65).  We do not know the content of God’s decree in election in terms of who are the elect and who are the non-elect, and so we must not act as if we know, but it does not follow that we should speak as if he has not made such a decree when we preach the gospel.

In our preaching, we must make it clear that God commands every person, whether elect or non-elect, to believe the gospel, thus testifying to every person’s obligation to believe – those who do will be saved, and those who do not will be damned.  However, we must not present this as a “sincere offer” of salvation from God even to the non-elect.

Faith is God’s sovereign gift, and God has decided to withhold it from the non-elect, but instead he chooses to harden them; therefore, to offer salvation to the non-elect as if God desires them to be saved and as if it is possible for them to be saved would be to lie to them in God’s name. There is no offer of salvation to the non-elect, but only a command that they can never obey, and God will punish them with hellfire.

This does not prevent us from preaching the gospel to all men, since it is not our duty or right to pick out the elect and preach only to them, or to pick out the non-elect and exclude them.  The point is that we must not present the gospel as a sincere offer to all, as if God’s “desire” can differ from his decree, as if God could or would decree against his “desire,” and as if it is possible for even the non-elect to be saved.

God loves the elect and desires (and thus has decreed) their salvation; he hates the reprobates and desires (and thus has decreed) their damnation (Romans 9:13).  The preaching of the gospel must be consistent with this.  So we must present the gospel as a serious command to all, as if it is required of all to believe (Acts 17:30), and as if God intends to summon the elect and harden the non-elect by the same preaching of the gospel (2 Corinthians 2:15-16).

Thus we must preach the gospel to all men for at least three reasons: 1. God commands us to preach the gospel to all people, 2. We do not know and should not consider beforehand who are the elect and who are the reprobates, and 3. The purpose of preaching the gospel is not only to summon the elect to faith, but also to harden the reprobates in their unbelief.

Although the topic might not always come up, it is not wrong to announce that God desires to save only the elect and has chosen only them for salvation, and that he will grant faith only to them, so that only they can believe.  And it is not wrong to announce that God desires to damn the reprobates and has chosen them for damnation, and that he will not only withhold faith from them, but that he will also harden their minds against the gospel, making it impossible for them to believe.

Just as we cannot determine beforehand who are the elect and who are the reprobates when we preach the gospel, our hearers must not try to determine for themselves whether they are among the elect or the reprobates, and then make that the basis as to whether they should call on God for salvation.  When one hears the gospel, he should not say, “God saves only the elect, and I am probably among the reprobates, so it is pointless for me to seek God.”  In fact, if one stubbornly thinks this way even when given a clear explanation of the gospel, this is an indication that he is indeed one of the reprobates, and God has chosen to establish this person in his damnation by means of this persistent deception.

Rather than concealing God’s decree from our hearers, we should explain the truths concerning sin and grace, and concerning election and reprobation.  More than that, we should present to them the whole system of biblical doctrines, as clearly and fully as possible (Acts 17:23-31; Matthew 28:19-20; Luke 14:27-33).  Then, we must admonish them to seek God for salvation through Jesus Christ.

Since it is impossible for people to truly seek God unless his power is already at work in their hearts, those who sincerely call out to God to save them by Jesus Christ are among the elect, and God has already started his work of conversion in them.  Those who insincerely or superficially obey, and who after a while fall away, or those who refuse to come at all, are among the non-elect, whose minds God has hardened even more by the preaching of the gospel (2 Corinthians 2:15-16; 2 Thessalonians 1:8).

Therefore, in rejecting the so-called “sincere offer” of the gospel, the preaching of the gospel is not diminished or rendered narrow and selective.  Instead, our doctrine is a consistent and necessary application of Scripture concerning the sovereignty of God, election and reprobation, and the preaching of the gospel.  It is a biblical and coherent view that values the preaching of the gospel, and indeed the propagation of the whole system of biblical doctrines, to all men everywhere.  Moreover, it acknowledges what Scripture teaches about the purpose and the effect of the preaching of the gospel, that is, to summon the elect and to harden the reprobates.

The biblical doctrine is straightforward.  There is no “sincere offer.”  God commands men everywhere to repent – the ones chosen for salvation will obey and be saved, but the ones chosen for damnation will disobey and be damned.  By God’s active decree and control, the reprobates are already sinful and prepared for hell, and their rejection of the gospel increases that guilt, and this is what God wants to happen”

– Vincent Cheung, The Author of Sin, pp. 30-32, 38

But see The Universal Call of the Gospel Requires Universal Provision/Unlimited Atonement

Cheung: Man Has No Freedom Whatsoever

“This is Calvinism – it is a consistent application of divine sovereignty over everything. It is a denial of any form of dualism or deism.  Thus I affirm that God controls everything about everything that is anything, including every aspect of every detail of every human decision and action, in such a way that man has no freedom in any meaningful or relevant sense.”

– Vincent Cheung, The Author of Sin, p. 16

The Fawlty Reasoning of Inevitable Perseverance

Random thought for the day: I don’t think the fictional hotelier Basil Fawlty (of Fawlty Towers fame – or infamy) would be convinced by one of the tenets of Calvinism’s Perseverance of the Saints… that being inevitable perseverance.

In the episode called ‘The Germans’, Basil is in the middle of hanging up a moose head, when he is interrupted by a phone call from his wife, reminding him to hang the moose head.  Basil’s reply was as follows:

“I was just doing it you stupid woman!  I just put it down to come here to be reminded by you to do what I’m already doing!  I mean what is the point of reminding me to do what I’m already doing?! (Bold emphasis mine)

When Calvinists teach that saints will inevitably persevere in righteousness, I am left wondering, if that were so, why does God waste so much time and effort in exhorting Christians to walk as Christ walked? Why does He waste His breath by exhorting us to be holy, and to do righteousness?  Applying Basil Fawlty’s reasoning to the situation, then: what is the point of reminding someone to do what they’re already doing, and will inevitably continue to do, no matter what?

Just a thought.