Saturday, November 10, 2012

Machiavellian Arminians

Perhaps they should be political constants for Barack Obama:

Generally speaking, non-open theist Arminians do not want to include open theists among their ranks or treat open theism as a variation of Arminianism.

I think there are political reasons for that. Among evangelicals, anyway, Arminianism has long been accepted as a respectable tradition even by most Reformed evangelicals who strongly disagree with it. Arminians were among the founders of the National Association of Evangelicals. Who can seriously doubt that John Wesley should be considered evangelical? Yes, of course, there are those Calvinists and Lutherans who would like to own the label “evangelical” and exclude Arminians, but that’s not widely accepted by the movers and shakers of evangelicalism. If open theism can be considered Arminian, that gives open theists more of a voice, a place at the table, among evangelicals.

On the other hand, anti-open theist Arminians, even some Arminians sympathetic to open theism, don’t want it included as even a variety of Arminianism because gives credence to the Calvinist critics’ claim that Arminianism leads to open theism (which they claim is heresy).

Some years ago I helped start an organization of evangelical Arminians. I didn’t argue that open theists should be included because I understood the political ramifications of that. The organization intended to introduce an organized, trans-denominational voice for Arminians among evangelicals. The thought was that including open theists would cause Calvinist critics to lump the whole organization together as heresy-friendly. It would play into the hands of those who claim that Arminianism leads to open theism.

1 comment:

  1. Whilst with impressive (and presumably unintentional) irony imputing such Machiavellian motives to the Calvinist side: "One thing I suspect is that many Calvinists realized that if many evangelicals adopted open theism, one of their strongest arguments against Arminianism would be nullified—that Arminianism cannot explain how God foreknows future free decisions of creatures without in any way determining them."

    Surely he can't actually believe that was the reason?