Saturday, December 20, 2008
In November of 1605, Arminius presented himself to the curators of the University of Leyden, the result of which was an affirmation of his Reformed Christian credentials. This presentation was a series of nine questions, each with a countering question regarding several doctrinal positions germane to Protestant understanding of the scriptures. The first of these inquiring questions and counters dealt directly with scriptural election and the following was Arminius' presentation on this matter.
1. Which is first, Election, or Faith Truly Foreseen, so that God elected his people according to faith foreseen?
1. Is the decree "for bestowing Faith on any one," previous to that by which is appointed "the Necessity of Faith to salvation?"
ANSWER TO THIS QUESTION
The equivocation in the word "Election," makes it impossible to answer this question in any other manner, than by distinction. If therefore "Election" denotes "the decree which is according to election concerning the justification and salvation of believers." I say Election is prior to Faith, as being that by which Faith is appointed as the means of obtaining salvation. But if it signifies "the decree by which God determines to bestow salvation on some one," then Faith foreseen is prior to Election. For as believers alone are saved, so only believers are predestinated to salvation. But the Scriptures know no Election, by which God precisely and absolutely has determined to save anyone without having first considered him as a believer. For such an Election would be at variance with the decree by which he hath determined to save none but believers.
Arminius, as a result of this reply, was deemed fully within the Reformed faith and his statement reflects a proper understanding of the scriptures by those of a classical or Reformation Arminian persuasion. Election should be viewed from at least a two-fold perspective as indicated in his reply. Every pastor approached by one of his flock with an eye toward receiving an answer regarding election can feel confident in presenting this Arminian view.