Monday, August 23, 2010

Arminius on What is a Reformed Church

While reading through Arminius' treatise on Protestantism and the Church of Rome that I posted most recently. I was struck by his definition of the "Reformed Church". There are some quarters in the Calvinist camp that take great pains to insist upon some measure of exclusivity to the title "Reformed". It is silly stuff to me but it makes them feel good about themselves in some odd sense. I generally do not refer to myself as Reformed unless I am using the phrase as Robert Picirilli has suggested, Reformed Arminian. Nonetheless, the Reformed label certainly has a broad historic application. Arminius provided a definition that I think is well stated.

We call "Reformed churches" those congregations professing the Christian faith which disavow every species of presidency whatever, assumed by the Roman pontiff, and profess to believe in and to perform acts of worship to God and Christ, according to the canons which each of them has comprised in its own confession or catechism; and they approve of such canons, therefore, only because they consider them to be agreeable to the Holy Scriptures, though they yield to the primitive church and the ancient fathers severally their proper places, but always in subordination to the Scriptures.


Rielly said...

I am continually amazed how there is such an interest in being labeled an Arminian or Calvinist. I'm sure both Calvin and Arminius would be mortified that people are going around calling themselves Arminian or Calvinist.

I don't mean to sound like I am taking the spiritual high road here; but goodness gracious...

Could it be that in response to the debate between divine sovereignty and human freedom, God simple says 'yes' to both?

Why are we obsessed with defining ourselves by these labels that, by the way, are far more hermeneutically informed by ancient Greek philosophical presuppositions?

Sorry for being on the receiving end of my rant, I came across your blog and it 'just happened'.

Thank you for writing, keep up the good work.


A.M. Mallett said...

Thank you for your comments. I cannot speak for Arminius or Calvin but I can defer to their particular writings and see each engaged in an active apologetic for what they believed to be the correct theological view of scripture. I do not consider myself a follower of Arminius but one who finds his perspective a reasonable presentation of scripture. Perhaps we might identify our stance as willful faith in opposition to divine determinism. Regardless, there are sharp differences of theological opinion between the two with Calvinism in particular being a rather small sect within Christendom. I engage these matters as part of a larger effort to keep the Calvinist distinctive out of our church mainly because I believe they are destructive to the faith and spiritual well being of most. Of course that is just my opinion but the differences are real and from my perspective constitute the difference between a dead dry bones gathering and one vibrant with willful and desirous love for God.

Derek said...

Just an add on... what amazes me are smart people who want to take the anti-intellictual high-ground.

For example, the debate is emphatically not between sovereignty and free will, as if Calvinist don't believe in free will and Arminians don't believe in divine sovereignty. Of course God says "yes" to both but not necessarily according to the Calvinists definition of, for example, sovereignty.

Now to suggest that God would say "yes to both Calvinism and Arminianism", this, again, reflects an anti-intellectual approach. As Roger Olson has shown over and over again, there can be no "Calminian" or "Arvinist"... the two systems are mutually exclusive.

Sorry brother, I read that comment and had a rant of my own.

A.M. Mallett said...

No problem. I have already man-centeredly determined that Calvinism is not correct and my opinion is all that matters ... well, as long as my wife is not reading over my shoulder.