Sunday, August 15, 2010

Arminius on the Christian Religion, It’s Name and Relation

There has been a lot of buzz in the media and on certain Christian blogs recently regarding the secular author Ann Rice and her rejection of the label Christian. There is nothing new in this as the secular world has been at war with Christianity since before Christ was nailed to wood at Calvary. The particulars of the celebrity's media event can be discussed until we are blue in the face and little would change. I reject her reasons as self serving and a deeper embrace of the carnal world she relishes in however my opinions in this matter are germane only to myself and my own commentary. Instead, I believe we should focus on why we should stand and be counted among Christians, not ashamed nor hesitant to embrace this nearly 2,000 year label and its core evangelical distinctives.

Arminius provided an excellent short commentary on this matter of being called Christian. His words follow …


1. Beginning now to treat further on the Christian religion, we will first declare what is the meaning of this term, and we will afterwards consider the matter of this religion, each in its order.

2. The Christian religion, which the Jews called "the heresy of the Nazarenes," obtained its name from Jesus of Nazareth, whom God hath appointed as our only master, and hath made him both Christ and Lord.

3. But this name agrees with him in two ways — from the cause and from the object.

(1.) From the cause; because Jesus Christ, as "the Teacher sent from God," prescribed this religion, both by his own voice, when he dwelt on earth, and by his apostles, whom he sent forth into all the world.

(2.) From the object; because the same Jesus Christ, the object of this religion, according to godliness, is now exhibited, and fully or perfectly manifested; whereas, he was formerly promised and foretold by Moses and the prophets, only as being about to come.

4. He was, indeed, a teacher far transcending all other teachers — Moses, the prophets, and even the angels themselves — both in the mode of his perception, and in the excellence of his doctrine. In the mode of his perception; because, existing in the bosom of the Father, admitted intimately to behold all the secrets of the Father, and endued with the plenitude of the Spirit, he saw and heard those things which he speaks and testifies. But other teachers, being endued, according to a certain measure with the Spirit, have perceived either by a vision, by dreams, by conversing "face to face," or by the intervention of an angel, those things which it was their duty to declare to others; and this Spirit itself is called "the Spirit of Christ."

5. In the excellence of his doctrine, also, Christ was superior to all other teachers, because he revealed to mankind, together and at once, the fullness of the very Godhead, and the complete and latest will of his Father respecting the salvation of men; so that, either as it regards the matter or the dearness of the exposition, no addition can be made to it, nor is it necessary that it should.

6. From their belief in this religion, and their profession of it, the professors were called Christians. (Acts 11:26; 1 Peter 4:16.) That the excellence of this name may really belong to a person, it is not sufficient for him to acknowledge Christ as a teacher and prophet divinely called. But he must likewise religiously own and worship him as the object of this doctrine, though the former knowledge and faith precede this, and though from it, alone, certain persons are sometimes said to have believed in Christ.