Wednesday, March 08, 2006

La Paulina Commedia

Never one to pass up the opportunity to advertise his profound grasp of the obvious, Paul Owen rushes to press with this late-breaking discovery:

“I am not saying that I agree with all the above Arminian interpretations. I am simply pointing out that they are plausible.”

Imagine that! Arminians have Arminian interpretations of Reformed prooftexts. Who would have guessed?

And as long as we’re disclosing trade secrets, here’s another revelation for you:

Arians have Arian interpretations of Nicene prooftexts.

“Being an Arminian does not mean that you reject the Bible.”

Well, sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t. There are Arminians who subscribe to Arminian theology because they think that’s the best way of interpreting the Bible.

But there are also Arminians who make it plain that even if the Bible taught Calvinism, they would reject it.

They characterize the Reformed doctrine of God in the same way that Thomas Paine or Ingersoll talk about the God of Scripture.

Arminians of this stripe have dynamited any bridge to Calvinism. For them, it’s not a choice between Calvinism and Arminianism, but between atheism and Arminianism.

“It simply means that you allow your understanding of God’s universal saving will (John 3:16; 1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9), to play a fundamental hermeneutical role in the interpretation of key Calvinistic prooftexts.”

In other words, Arminians misinterpret one set of Scriptures the better with which to misinterpret another set of Scriptures.

And suppose we were to make one or two verbal substitutions to Owen’s argument:

““Being an Arian does not mean that you reject the Bible. It simply means that you allow your understanding of Christ’s economic status (Mk 13:32; Jn 14:28; 1 Cor 15:28) to play a fundamental hermeneutical role in the interpretation of key Nicene prooftexts.”

Do I rank Arminians with Arians? No. Arminians can be saved while Arians cannot.

My point is to illustrate the Swiss cheese reasoning which Owen employs to make his point. It could let anything through.

“However, I will gladly admit that I am a great admirer of Arminius and Wesley.”

I can’t say that I’m an admirer of Arminius.

Wesley had some admirable qualities.

“These men were gifted theologians and ministers, whom all ‘Calvinists’ should revere.”

Revere? Well, hagiography is a fundamental feature of Owen’s Anglo-Catholic idolatry.

Yes, both men were talented. After all, Arminius was originally a Dutch-Reformed theologian. Can’t get better than that!

As to Wesley, he was a man of many talents. He did the good that only a good man can do, and he also did the harm that only a good man can do.

“Arminian theology deserves our respect.”

It doesn’t deserve my respect. Arminian theology is a compromise between humanism and Calvinism.

It is, in principle, a lesser heresy than Pelagianism, but it’s also a more insidious heresy precisely because it’s a mediating position in which the Evangelical flavoring masks the arsenical aftertaste. It has a good nose.

But because saving grace is sovereign grace, God can even save an Arminian!

“And we should never give the impression that Arminians are incapable of handling our Calvinist prooftexts.”

Handle or mishandle?

Lest the reader think that I’m opposed to ecumenism, permit me to say that my idea of the perfect church is a place where a Southern Baptist pastor preaches the doctrines of grace in Cranmerian prose to Lutheran music within a Gothic sanctuary.

In this post, Owen does his best to retract his claws and come across as oh-so magnanimous, but for those of us who have followed his checkered career, Owen is a very selective ecumenist. If he were rewriting Dante’s Divine Comedy, the distribution of the heaven-bound and the hell-bound would look something like this:



Anglo-Catholic schismatics

Primum Mobile:


Fixed stars:

















Recovering Baptists


First circle:

Southern Baptists

Second circle:

Reformed Baptists

Third circle:

Particular Baptists

Fourth circle:

General Baptists

Fifth circle:


Sixth circle:

Plymouth Brethren

Seventh circle:

Salvation Army

Eighth circle:


Ninth circle:

Old Horny, James White, Eric Svendsen, & Steve Hays


  1. I am considering becoming Amish so I can be closer to those in the 9th level of hell

  2. Although Purgatorio would be a humorous place to be ;)

  3. Do I get into the 9th circle by inclusion? :-)

  4. Evan:

    I thought that's who Steve meant by "old Horney". You're 16, right?

  5. I'm glad the Plymouth Brethren made it to the list :)