“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