Is Arminianism Heresy? 20.75% Say “Yes!”

Derek Ouellette —  November 30, 2010

As this is the first poll done here on Covenant of Love a disclaimer is in order: Don’t take these poll results too seriously. Really. These polls are not well thought out, they are not professional, they are not intended to accurately represent a wide demographic. It is simply intrguing to see how many visitors of Covenant of Love – of those who are inclined to answer the poll – view a certain subject. That’s it. Nothing more.

Now on with the post…

Do 21% Actually Believe Arminianism Is Heresy?

Well, some people might have just click on yes to be annoying. But as for those who answered the poll seriously, the real question probably boils down to how we define heresy.

As the infant church developed it’s core beliefs – the deity of Christ, the Trinity, et cetera – “heresy” was a word reserved only for those who denied these core (“orthodox”) beliefs and thus found themselves on the outside of the historic Christian faith. But as the church grew and splintered – while still maintaining those core beliefs – the word “heresy” began to be used not just for those who denied the core orthodox beliefs of Christianity, but also those “orthodox” beliefs which may be unique to one sub-group of Christianity or another.

In this way Calvinists may refer to Arminianism as being “heretical”, but in doing so what is probably meant is that because Arminianism denies “U.L.I” (in the famous TULIP acronym), they deny the core “orthodox” beliefs unique to Calvinism, and to a Calvinist, that amounts to “heresy”. They second reason why someone might believe Arminianism to be heresy is because they attribute to the Arminian system things which Arminianism explicitly rejects. Arminians tend to do the same thing to Calvinism. What is often attribute to Arminianism is “Semi-Pelagianism” – that it is at least conceivable that a person can merit their own salvation apart from the grace of God. Arminians reject this, but their critics see “Semi-Pelagianism” as resulting from Arminianism. The final reason (I can discern) why someone might believe that Arminianism is heresy may be because they actually believe that the Arminian system denies a core orthodox belief of the historic Christian faith. This is a pure, simple and catagorical mistake and has nothing to do with one persons opinion over against another. The person who holds to this oppinion is simply mistaken and needs to be corrected.

Personally, I believe the word “heresy” should be reserved only for those who deny the core beliefs of the historic Christian faith. I do not believe the word should ever be used by one sub-group of Christians against another sub-group of Christians. Many people – good and godly people such as William Tyndale – died because they wore the label “heretic”. I think that “Heresy” is a serious charge and should only be used in extreme cases. It should not be watered down or used cavalierly. I also believe that it is important to separate heretical beliefs from the people who hold to them. The learning process is just that, a process. We all need to be corrected from time to time. Let us show others the grace which God has shown us.

For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. – Matthew 7:2

December’s Poll Question: What Was Jesus’ Primary Mission?

In light of the fact that December is Advent month, where we celebrate both the first and second coming of Christ, the poll for this month is quite fitting: What was Jesus’ primary mission? With “primary” being the operative word. If necessary you may give more then one answer, but don’t give the same answer twice.

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Derek Ouellette

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a husband, new dad, speaker, writer, christian. see my profile here.