DAISY: The 5 Points of Arminianism

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Calvinists have long had 5 points (spelling TULIP) to explain the basic doctrines of Reformed thinking (many of the terms of which are quite misleading):

Total depravity
Unconditional election
Limited atonement
Irresistible grace
Perseverance of the saints

Discoshaman has posted the five points of Arminianism, DAISY:

Diminished depravity
Abrogated election
Impersonal atonement
Sedentary grace
Yieldable justification

Of course this only works for 5-point Arminians (i.e. those who deny all five points of Calvinism, which most Arminians I know wouldn't do, and many more combinations of some of the points but not others are at least consistent than most people have thought).

19 Comments

What's the difference between abrogated election and unconditional election, and limited atonement vs. impersonal atonement? (I think I get the rest)

Hi Mark!

I don't know your theological background, so I'll just write this out as clearly as I can without oversimplifying. Then if anything is just incomprehensible, let me know. . .

Abrogated isn't the best adjective for it, but I needed an A. :) The difference between the two positions would be that Arminians hold that we become "elect" by means of God looking ahead in time and seeing who would believe and then electing them. They base this on a specious reading of "foreknowledge" in Romans 8. Foreknowledge as used in the Word is used in the sense of a special love given to an individual or group, not mere cognition. Otherwise you end up with silly statements like God being aware of the existence of Jesus from all eternity or being cognizant of Israel among all the nations of the earth. Further, people are foreknown, not actions, as the Bible uses the term. . .

The Calvinist position holds with Ephesians 1, Romans 9 and a score of other places in the Word which teach that our election was "unconditional." That doesn't mean random, but it does mean that the choice was made "according to the good pleasure of God's will", as Ephesians says. Arminians would like to add a thought to that statement, but it's exactly that -- eisegesis.

The Arminian's impersonal atonement says that Jesus died for each and every individual on the planet, but that His death actually effectively saved no one. If we take their teachings at face value, it was perfectly possible for every human being on earth to still go to Hell. It also drains the Biblical words defining the atonement of any real meaning, leaving a shell behind. Redemption means "to purchase and take ownership by the payment of a price." The Arminian view reduces this to saying that Jesus paid a price for everyone, but billions of those who belong to Him and have been bought with his blood will burn in Hell. This does violence to the meaning of redemption. It also destroys the Biblical sense of "propitiation." They would have us believe that billions of people for whom Christ has propitiated the wrath of God will still suffer his wrath for eternity.

Calvinists accept what Christ said in John, that He laid down His life for His sheep. Christ died to redeem those whom the father had chosen "from before the foundation of the world." Those whom Christ died to save WILL be saved, because Jesus has lost none of those whom the Father has given Him, as He said.

Many reject this understanding of the atonement because of the "universal" passages on the atonement in the Bible. They CAN be read universally, in the abstract. It is a valid reading of them. But not the only reading. "World" has many varying usages in the word and "all men" is used to mean many things other than literally every single individual -- two instances are: both Jew and Greek, and many of the people in Judea. The more restricted reading of the universal passages is the one which best harmonizes with the full counsel of the Word, allowing us both the Biblical meanings of the various atonement words, and unity within the Trinity. Otherwise you have the Father working at one purpose and the Son at quite a cross-purpose, dying for people the Father has definitively NOT elected (either unconditionally or on the basis of foreseen faith, the disconnect exist regardless.)

Anyway, these are a few thoughts on the subject. If you'd ever like to talk more about it, please drop me an email anytime.

Yours,
John

In a simplified version, unconditional election says that God's choice of individual elect people isn't based on anything that can be earned. Calvinists often accuse Arminians of saying that the election is based on an act that earns salvation -- the act of choosing God (which denies the Protestant claim that salvation is by God's grace and not earned). I think God can make a choice of someone based on something true about that person without it being an earned thing, so in some ways the A is DAISY is a caricature in my view, though I think John will disagree.

As for limited atonement, I recently posted about that, and again I think that one is more complicated than these two simple labels make it sound. I think there's a dispute to be made but that most people frame the dispute very wrongly.

How does the Arminian avoid the error that Arius made? I realize that there are not that many "5 point" Arminians - if any that are orthodox, but it seems that if one rejects total depravity then one is in the position to live a perfect life. Do I not understand what total depravity is? On my definition, total depravity is the idea that all works that we attempt apart from the grace of God will not be good; good works can only be accomplished through the grace of God.

You're thinking of Pelagius. Some Arminian theologians stray scarily close to repeating the mistakes of Pelagius in denying original sin (though thankfully most have remained orthodox in their beliefs about man's sinful nature.) Many, many of the lay people in Arminian churches are clueless about what the Bible teaches about man's sinful nature.

There are actually quite a lot of 5-point Arminians -- Nazarenes, Methodists and many, many Pentecostals would be classically (and often consciously) Arminian in their beliefs. As are the Openness Theologians who deny the omniscience of God.

What you're speaking of is "original sin", or the fallen nature of humanity. Both Arminians and Calvinists agree that man is born sinful. When discussing these things it's important to remember that it's an in-house debate -- we're brothers in Christ despite our differences.

Where we disagree is on the EXTENT of the Fall. Arminians hold that while man is sinful, his will is unimpeded. He is able to come to God in spite of his sinful nature.

Calvinists believe the Bible teaches that the fall of mjan was TOTAL. That all aspects of him are fallen -- mind, will, spirit, emotions. The whole enchilada. As the Bible puts it, he "drinketh iniquity like water." The Gospel itself is "foolishness" to the natural man, as the Bible puts it. Man is dead in sin, a slave to sin, by nature a child of wrath, whose desire is to do the will of his father -- the devil. These are all Biblical statements. He is as dead and helpless as Lazarus until God calls him to Him through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Calvinists take the Word seriously when it says we're spiritually blind and deaf and that by nature we hate the Light. Once someone understands the fallen nature of man's will, the idea of him coming to God on his own is as unnatural as water flowing uphill.

Which would bring us to the I in TULIP -- Irresistible Grace. This doesn't mean that God turns us into robots or hijacks our will, but it means that when God regenerates an individual He is sovereign in that process. The Bible calls this "calling" or "drawing" and it is a very strong verb. It's the same one used when the rich man drags the poor man into court. The Bible also calls this the Holy Spirit opening a person's heart to believe or being given 'ears to hear'. The Bible uses other terms to express the thought, but this is enough to go on for now. . .

But that's a subject for another time. I'm exhausted and in danger of rambling. If you ever want to chat further on it, pop over to Le Sabot or feel free to drop me an email. :)

Yours in Christ,
John

Ack! Just a quick modification. What you were saying actually DOES connect with Total Depravity. Man apart from Christ can't do anything pleasing to God, because of his depravity. This IS part of what Total Depravity means. The full definition just also includes an understanding that man's fall was comprehensive, and encompasses his will along with the rest of him.

"If one rejects total depravity then one is in the position to live a perfect life."

Total depravity is the doctrine that every aspect of us is in some way fallen. You can deny that and still think that some aspects of us are fallen. Therefore denying it doesn't entail that we can be perfect. Some do deny it and then say we can be perfect, but it doesn't follow automatically that we can.

Thanks for the correction, I got Augustine's opponents confused with Athanasius. For some reason I was thinking that it was Augustine and Arius.
I guess I looked at the impact of the fall holistically, I did not consider partial aspects of a human being affected by the fall or the fall having a greater or lesser effect upon a person -this would seem to be a Thomistic position. I think that Aquinas claimed that the will is only bent, but not destroyed as Luther or Calvin would argue. I think I comitted the fallacy of a false disjunction on the total depravity issue. Or at least I think that's what the fallacy is called.

Aquinas probably wouldn't have thought of a will the way we do. Luther or Calvin even wouldn't have thought of a will in the Kantian sense. The main point of Aquinas, Luther, and Calvin is that we have an ability to approach God without God's drawing us to himself. You can use whatever metaphor you want to describe this (destroyed, twisted or bent, etc.), but they believed the same thing on this issue.

Where Aquinas (rightly, in my view) differed from Luther and Calvin is that fallen humanity has the ability to reason and sometimes even do so well. Calvin and Luther (or at least the version of them presented by many Calvinists today) seem to ignore some biblical teaching on this issue (e.g. Romans 1 claims that God's existence is really obvious to everyone, even those who insist that it isn't, while Luther and Calvin (in this view of them that I don't trust in its accuracy) so stress the inability of human will that they also apply it to the intellect and say something demonstrably false. There are people who believe in God for whom it's merely propositional knowledge. I know people who are in exactly this state. If the mind is fallen to such a degree that people are unable to reach the truth without God's saving grace, then this empirical data would be impossible.

What this illustrates is the doctrine of common grace (which some Calvinists dispute because 'grace' in English translations of the Bible is never applied to someone who never becomes saved, but other 'gift'-terms are). God provides rain to both the righteous and the wicked, so blessing is not dependent on whether someone is in Christ. God grants abilities of an incredible nature -- musical skills, emotional insightfulness, intellectual sophistication, even intellectual honesty -- to people God knows will never believe. So Aquinas thought arguments for God's existence (many of which in his case were arguments distinguishing between the Christian view of God and the Muslim view of God and therefore were not directed against the atheist or agnostic of today) were a helpful part of intellectual life. The natural light, an effect of common grace, is accessible to all. It won't have salvific effects unless God's saving grace is working in the person's heart, but that doesn't diminish the first point.

This distinction is commonly missed by many Reformed people today who assume the opposite without argument and therefore end up with the presuppositionalist view of apologetics, which has nothing at all to do with Reformed theology but which is assumed without argument to be implied by it. The view is pragmatically inconsistent anyway, since the arguments it uses can all be reworked into classical apologetical arguments without changing the content or the structure, but that's a topic for another time. Maybe I should post on that some time.

I'll give short definitions:

DAISY:

Diminished Depravity - Man can do spiritual good. Thus, he can save himself without God.

Abrogated election - God foreknown (foreseen) who will believe in Him. Thus, he chose only those who will believe in Him.

Impersonal atonement - Salvation depends on them an if he will believe or not.

Sedentary grace - God's Grace can be resisted by man.

Yieldable justification - Man can fall out of his state of salvation. This one is caused by Sedentary grace.

- As you can see, Arminianism can imply that man has more power over God.

TULIP:

Total Depravity - Man can do nothing to do spiritually good. Of course, man can do good IN FRONT of his fellow men BUT his MOTIVES often aren't pure.

Unconditional Election - God chose His people with no reason at all. He chose randomly.

Limited Atonement - God already will bring salvation to only those He chose.

Irristible Grace - Since God chose His people, He will not let them fall from grace.

Perseverance of the Saints - Caused by Irrisistible Grace, God will make his chosen ones persevere in faith up to the end.
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Any questions?

Since the DAISY ones were mostly unfair mischaracterizations of Arminianism, I'm not going to comment on those, but I don't agree with how you've put four of the five TULIP petals.

Total Depravity - Man can do nothing to do spiritually good. Of course, man can do good IN FRONT of his fellow men BUT his MOTIVES often aren't pure.

I wouldn't go that far. Total Depravity means no one can (without saving grace) achieve what's necessary for salvation, but that doesn't mean no one ever has good motives. Since Total Depravity doesn't mean we're as bad as we can be, but rather that every part of us is fallen from perfection, I just don't see why it means no one has ever had a good motive. No one does good in the sense that no one can merit salvation, but does that mean no one does good in the sense of ever doing something genuinely moral good? I don't see why it does.

Unconditional Election - God chose His people with no reason at all. He chose randomly.

Certainly not. Just because people don't merit it doesn't mean God had no reasons. For example, he seems to have chosen the apostle Paul because of some natural giftedness that he would amplify with the Holy Spirit to accomplish the tasks set out for him.

Limited Atonement - God already will bring salvation to only those He chose.

That one I think you've got pretty much right. It's usually the one people get really wrong, too.

Irristible Grace - Since God chose His people, He will not let them fall from grace.

Actually, that's Perseverance of the Saints. Irresistible Grace is that if God has genuinely chosen someone, that grace will see that person to becoming saved in the first place. Irresistible Grace is about the achievement of salvation. Perseverance of the Saints is about keeping it.

Perseverance of the Saints - Caused by Irrisistible Grace, God will make his chosen ones persevere in faith up to the end.

I'm not sure I like putting it that way. It sounds as if God forces people to persevere in faith, whereas Calvinism typically involves a compatibilist view of freedom according to which God does not make us do things but simply works through our free choices to achieve his sovereign will.

Sir Pierce,

If you have a time to read the bible, then I'll quote some verses with the TULIP.

TOTAL DEPRAVITY:
1. Fallen man can do no good work.
Matthew 7:17-18; 1 Corinthians 12:3; John 15:4-5; Romans 8:7-8

2. Fallen man cannot comprehend the good.
Acts 16:14; Ephesians 4:18; 2 Corinthians 3:12-18; John 1:11; John 8:43; Matthew 13:14; 1 Corinthians 1:18,21; 1 Corinthians 2:14

3. Man cannot have any desire towards the good.
Matthew 7:18; John 3:3; John 8:43; John 15:5; John 6:64-65; Ezekiel 11:19; Ephesians 2:1,5

UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION:
Romans 9:13; Romans 9-11; 1 Peter 1:20
- Sorry about this. What I meant to say is that He chose His people even BEFORE they were born.

LIMITED ATONEMENT:
Matthew 1:21; John 10:15; John 15:13; Acts 20:28; Ephesians 5:25

IRRESISTIBLE GRACE: (I stand corrected.)
John 6:37; John 5:21; John 10:16; Romans 8:29-30; John 3:3; Acts 13:48; Ephesians 1:19-20; 1 Corinthians 4:7

Perseverance of the Saints:
John 6:37-39; Philippians 1:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24; 2 Timothy 4:18; 1 Peter 1:23; Romans 8:29; Ephesians 2:10

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As I can see, based on total depravity, that's how serious a fallen man's situation is.

The Calvinists' doctrine seems unfair, right?
But who's more biblical; Arminians or Calvinists?

I happen to be a Calvinist, so I'm not sure what your concluding statement is supposed to be getting at. I just don't think you've represented Calvinism well, given that Calvinism does not require saying things the way you did.

Fallen man can do no good work.

Yes and no. Without grace, fallen humanity cannot on its own produce meritorious works that could earn salvation. But that doesn't mean that fallen people never do good things.

Fallen man cannot comprehend the good.

It's one thing to have your understanding darkened with respect to the gospel. It's quite another not to recognize anything that is good as good. Most fallen people can see that most good things are good.

Man cannot have any desire towards the good.

I would agree that humanity cannot in our fallen state desire what is truly good, i.e. God. That doesn't mean that fallen humans can't have desires for good things, and it doesn't mean they can't desire what is good about those good things. Not one of the verses you gave supports the stronger claim.

Well that's a surprise. I am a Calvinist too.

Guess I am more willing to listen to you now.

I'd like to be clarified of things here:

"But that doesn't mean that fallen people never do good things."

Like I said earlier. Man can do good in FRONT of his fellow men but his MOTIVES often aren't pure.

"Most fallen people can see that most good things are good."

I'm guessing you know why they keep doing what is wrong.

That doesn't mean that fallen humans can't have desires for good things

This is when God has given His grace to the elect.

This is when God has given His grace to the elect.

huh?

What I meant to say was:

God GAVE fallen man the desire to do spiritually good.

Please tell me if this is hyper-calvinism. I don't like being one. Calvinism will do but not Hyper-Calvinism.

There's a difference between absolutely pure motives and good motives. I agree that no one has absolutely pure motives (and I think this is true even after conversion). I don't think that means no one ever has remotely good motives. Sometimes people do, and I don't mean just Christians. I don't think it's without God's grace, but common grace allows for nonbelievers to have some good motivations some of the time.

Hyper-Calvinism is tricky. It's kind of like fundamentalism. People generally call someone a fundamentalist if the person is more conservative on certain issues than the person speaking, and the word doesn't really mean all that much. Those who drink alcohol in moderation call people fundamentalists if they don't drink at all. Those who think women should preach over congregations that include men call people fundamentalists if they don't think that.

The same is true of Calvinism and Hyper-Calvinism. Anyone time someone says something more extreme than another Calvinist, the other Calvinists considers it hyper-Calvinism. I think some of the things you've said are more extreme than the kind of Calvinism I accept. By the usual methods of debate, I could call it Hyper-Calvinism. But there are lots of Calvinists who say the sort of thing you say. What I would say firmly is that you don't need to go that far to be a Calvinist. Whether it's called Hyper-Calvinism isn't important to me, because I think that term can mean a lot of things.

Thanks for that.

What I know about Hyper-Calvinism is that it's like saying this:

"God chose me to be a Hyper-Calvinist."

- And I don't like saying that.

Woah! I'm being amazed at what I said over 5 years ago.

Observing my own language, I have to admit that I haven't being of the Reformed faith despite my claim to the contrary... Maybe that or I was just plain childish at this time.

How God in His time makes his seeds grow. Thank you for this conversation Mr. Pierce.

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