Sunday, November 28, 2010

Arminius on Religion

There is a little buzz on a couple of blogs regarding emergence, evangelicalism and the lack of a sense of necessity with regard to proper doctrine. Without creating a set of dogma I try to hold to two essential  beliefs, each anchored around Paul's reference to our word of faith found in Rom 10:8-9. Yet, before we can even get to that point, we need to understand what it is we express at a more fundamental level. Arminius addressed this in defining religion, specifically our Christian religion, and it serves as a starting point for coming to terms with what we are supposed to believe as children of God.


1. Omitting all dispute about the question, "whether it be possible for God to render man happy by a union with himself without the intervening act of man," we affirm that it has pleased God not to bless man except by some duty performed according to the will of God, which God has determined to reward with eternal blessedness.

2. And this most equitable will of God rests on the foundation of the justice and equity according to which it seems lawful and proper, that the Creator should require from his creature, endowed with reason, an act tending to God, by which, in return, a rational creature is bound to tend towards God, its author and beneficent lord and master.

3. This act must be one of the entire man, according to each of his parts — according to his soul, and that entirely, and each of his faculties, and according to his body, so far as it is the mute instrument of the soul, yet itself possessing a capacity for happiness by means of the soul. This act must likewise be the most excellent of all those things which can proceed from man, and like a continuous act; so that whatever other acts those may he which are performed by man through some intervention of the will, they ought to be performed according to this act and its rule.

4. Though this duty, according to its entire essence and all its parts, can scarcely be designated by one name, yet we do not improperly denominate it when we give it the name of Religion This word, in its most enlarged acceptation, embraces three things — the act itself, the obligation of the act, and the obligation with regard to God, on account of whom that act must be performed. Thus, we are bound to honor our parents on account of God.

5. Religion, then, is that act which our theology places in order; and it is for this reason justly called "the object of theological doctrine."

6. Its method is defined by the command of God, and not by human choice; for the word of God is its rule and measure. And as in these day we have this word in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament alone, we say that these Scriptures are the canon according to which religion is to be conformed. We shall soon treat more fully about the Scriptures how far it is required that we should consider them as the canon of religion.

7. The opposites to religion are, impiety, that is, the neglect and contempt of God, and eqeloqrhskeia will-worship, or superstition, that is, a mode of religion invented by man. Hypocrisy is not opposed to the whole of religion, but to its integrity or purity; because that in which the entire man ought to be engaged, is performed only by his body.