Fun with Arminians

To wake you up on a Monday morning, here’s some good-natured fun at our expense from an Arminian (who takes equal-opportunity potshots at his own camp).  It’s interesting to see what “we” look like to the outside, although if the stereotype includes obsessions with Mars Hill (the “good” one) and John Piper, it would seem that he’s aiming more at Young, Restless, and Reformed than at us (i.e. Calvinists, but not necessarily the Historically, Confessionally Reformed).

He missed a few targets for some easy points.  For instance, we like not just the ESV translation, but we loves us some ESV, Study, Bible.  (I know I got mine, and this year, I switched the Daily Confession scripture proofs from into  Also memorizing the Shorter Catechism (but only Q&A 1, and maybe 33).  Also paedobaptism — and even more, arguing about paedobaptism, and TULIP, and everything else that goes with the “Cage-Stage”.

I was a little disconcerted, however, about this one:

Second Generation Calvinists are highly esteemed because there are so few of them. Most children of Calvinists become either non-Calvinists (the Schaeffer route) or hyper-Calvinists (the Sproul route).

Is this an actual phenomenon, or even a prevalent stereotype?  I know about Frankie, I don’t know about Sproul Jr. (or would that be III?), but I had never heard of any kind of widespread phenomenon like this.  It seems to me that if catechesis does what we believe it does, the Reformed would have a very low attrition rate.

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19 Responses to Fun with Arminians

  1. Echo_ohcE says:

    It seems to me that the term “Calvinist” should probably have something to do with John Calvin. It takes more than a belief in TULIP to make one a Calvinist, though that’s a good start.

    The so called 5 points of Calvinism are the 5 points of the Synod of Dordt, which actually was in response to the 5 points of the Remonstrants, who had boiled down their theology to 5 main points, all of which are the opposite of the 5 points of TULIP. So what became known as TULIP was a direct response to those 5 points of the Remonstrants.

    So then, while I applaud belief in the 5 points, it takes more than that to be a Calvinist, since Calvin himself never wrote the 5 points, and he believed much more than these things. He even emphasized these other things greatly.

    The belief in predestination is by NO MEANS new in Church history at the time of the Reformation. People believed in Predestination long before that. Many in the medieval church were predestinarians, such as Thomas Aquinas. So obviously, predestination does not make the Reformation.

    And in fact, let’s not suppose that the main point of disagreement between Augustine and Pelagius was predestination. It wasn’t. The highlight of that debate is really original sin and monergism vs. synergism. Let us not suppose that Augustine revived predestination, which was consequently lost until Calvin came along. Not true.

    So if we say that predestination = Calvinism, we’re REALLY selling the Reformation short, possibly even undermining it altogether.

    It seems to me that Calvinism should be defined by Calvin himself. It seems to me that insofar as you believe what Calvin says in his Institutes, you are a Calvinist.

    Similarly, you are Reformed insofar as you agree with the Reformed Confessions. If you want to call yourself Reformed, then you should believe what the Reformers believed. They told us what they believe, and spent huge amounts of time in large gatherings of ordained men to work out just what it was that they believed. And they crystallized it all in the reformed confessions.

    Now, clearly, Arminians are completely and utterly ignorant about such matters. They don’t realize that Arminianism is actually the new doctrine at the time of the Reformation. THEY, not Calvin, were the innovators by DENYING predestination.

    Do you see how they have couched the entire debate in language that favors their side? And we have bought into it, hook, line, and sinker.

    Given all of this, how do you suppose an Arminian would define a “hyper-Calvinist”? Probably a hyper-Calvinist is anyone who really, really, really believes in predestination. Perhaps someone who says that God decrees sin. More than likely, the Arminian would label the Westminster Confession of Faith, if he had the attention span to read it, a hyper-Calvinist document. He’d probably say the same about Calvin himself. But of course they couldn’t possibly read these things. It’s too much for them to think that much. Such a person is a fool, a buffoon, ignorant, a resounding gong.

    So how seriously should we take their assessment that Calvinism is inherently bad for children, inevitably leading to bad fruit? How seriously should we take his claims that Calvinist parents NEVER raise adult children who are also Calvinists?

    Well, we’re in the outhouse, so I’ll say that after reading such claims, I feel the need for TP because it’s BS.

    Look, I’ve seen many multi-generational families in Reformed Churches. It’s wonderful to see, quite frankly.

    I’ll tell you what leads to bad fruit in children: legalism. If you want to insure that your children will turn their back on the church, then just train them to be legalistic in their thinking. Teach them that smoking and drinking are evil. Teach them that certain words aren’t just inappropriate for certain circumstances, but inherently evil. Teach them that listening to certain music is evil, that watching certain movies is evil. Teach them not to handle, taste, touch, see, and hear.

    And above all, if you want to see your kids turn aside from the truth, make sure you never teach them about the imputed righteousness of Christ. Make sure you never tell them that they can’t earn their salvation, but Christ earned it for them.

    If there’s any problem that’s plagued the church and sent our children turning and fleeing, it is legalism and moralism in preaching first and foremost.

    And guess what’s taught in ALL Arminian churches, no exceptions?

    To be sure, there are some Calvinistic churches that are moralistic. No denomination lacks many of such churches.

    But there IS NO SUCH THING as an Arminian church that preaches the gospel in its purity. Arminianism is the same as Rome to me. It is necessarily synergistic, and thus leads to Pelagianism and Romish thinking. It is the necessary, logical conclusion of any system of doctrine that says that Christ saves us, but we’ve got to do our part, even if that part is simply an act of the will to choose Christ. It’s just one, small, tiny little work – and yet that little bit of leaven ruins the entire thing, inevitably leading to a soteriology of faith and works, rather than faith alone.

    Let me put it very clearly. The ONLY HOPE for anyone’s children is to take them to a Reformed, Calvinisitic Church, where it is at least possible that they will hear the true message of salvation in Jesus Christ. Take them to any other church, and you will be doing everything in your power to turn them into apostates who HATE the church. If that is not the result, praise God, but it won’t be for lack of trying on your part.

  2. Bruce S. says:

    His potshots miss (widely) this second generation Calvinist.
    ESV Nope. I carry around a paper-back NASB with electrician’s tape holding the cover on. It looks workmanlike, humble and it gets beat up more easily. It’s my token act of pietism. It is expressed not in the version of my bible but its beat up condition. I don’t even have to read it and it looks like I spend all day in it.
    Mars Hill Church Is either one of these outfits a church at all?
    AlcoholI thought one’s consumption here was a function of whether or not one actually likes the stuff.
    Old TheologiansHorton’s not old.
    John PiperI’ve got no use for the guy. I’ve got my reasons.
    Caedmon’s CallChristian plumbers? Christian education? Christian music? C’mon.
    Second Generation CalvinistsSeems to me like he is reaching for humor where there is none. Note that I was in a legalistic Calvinist church as a kid. I didn’t stick around, but the Calvinism did.
    The Word “Reformed”I think he gets backwards the idea that “Reformed Theology” is code for “I’m a Calvinist”. Being Reformed and being Calvinistic aren’t quite the same thing.
    The Five SolasMuch of this makes very little sense.
    Small GroupsThe only small group I attend is the Sunday morning and evening stated worship service. I plan to keep it that way.

  3. RubeRad says:

    Whoa! Simmer down you two! You’ll note at the beginning that I already understand that they can’t see the difference between Calvinist & Reformed — heck, most Calvinists/Reformed don’t understand that difference (which is why Clark had to write RRC)!

    As for taking offense at the second generation Calvinist thing; note that they hit their own camp harder on that score: “There are no second generation Arminians. They invariably become liberal, or convert to another branch of Christianity.

    So I guess I’m the only one that can see the “good-natured”?

  4. Bruce S. says:

    It’s good-natured all right. So am I, all the time. I just think he misses the mark in my own case.

    Actually, you could spot your own little potshot by the adjective “good-natured”. As a Calvinist, you know there is no such thing.

  5. Zrim says:

    It seems to me that if catechesis does what we believe it does, the Reformed would have a very low attrition rate.

    But catechesis isn’t magic or even semi-magic. It’s a command by God, and it’s a matter of being obedient to it and having faith in the promises of God. If baptism, just as commanded and just as much a matter of obedience, doesn’t ensure low attrition rates why would catechesis?

    Sometimes I wonder if the abiding evangelicalism (read: QIRC) gets transferred to Reformed practices: pray the sinner’s prayer and rededicate enough (or do enough subcultural stuff) and it’ll keep everyone in–catechize with enough newfound fervor and enthusiasm and nobody will leave the fold. But there is no way to guarantee anything. There are only promises to be confidently embraced and commands to be imperfectly obeyed.

  6. elnwood says:

    I thought the stereotypes in the post, were (appropriately) exaggerated, and every one doesn’t apply to all Calvinists, but in general it was pretty apt. I definitely haven’t read the archaic books in my library, and yes, reading John Owen is a real snoozer.

    “It seems to me that insofar as you believe what Calvin says in his Institutes, you are a Calvinist.” I disagree. Calvinism and Arminianism is an historically accurate and simple way to refer to differences over predestination. It’s much clearer than talking about “the doctrines of grace” or “TULIP.”

    Being a Calvinist doesn’t mean you believe EVERYTHING Calvin believed any more than being a Jeffersonian means you own slaves. If you hold to that definition, then there are no Arminian Baptists, for Arminius was a paedo-baptist.

    Besides, the Westminster Confession articulates a different and contradictory view of the Sabbath than Calvin did in the Institutes, so if you hold to that definition, all strictly confessional Presbyterians are not Calvinist.

  7. Rick says:

    the Westminster Confession articulates a different and contradictory view of the Sabbath than Calvin did in the Institutes

    Just somebody tell me if I can have a Sunday bowl or not.

  8. Thought the article was in good fun and thought he did poke fun at his own group as well. The ability to laugh at oneself is a lifesaver.

  9. Zrim says:


    “Whatever” to Sunday bowl, “no” to Super Bowl. Actually, if you have to ask you might beware your inner legalist.


    Cowboy cap ($10), bomber jacket (what, $300?), a self-professing Calminian snuggled up like that (priceless).

  10. Rick says:

    Just tell me what to do and what not to do. following a list is easier than trying to figure out what Q&A 103 of the HC means.

  11. Todd says:

    What’s the difference between a Baptist and a Presbyterian?

    The Baptist admits he watched the Superbowl.

  12. RubeRad says:

    Conversely, why must you always take two Baptists out fishing with you?

    Because if you take only one, he’ll drink all your beer.

  13. RubeRad says:

    Also (and this is true), I’m a Presbyterian, I went to a Superbowl party, but I didn’t watch the game.

  14. Zrim says:

    Yes, but the Presbyterian also wears shoes.

    What’s the difference between a Methodist and a Baptist? The Methodist can read.

  15. Rick says:

    My grandfather used to share this:

    “Baptists drive by the Reformed Church and see them outside smoking and say ‘how terrible!’ — The Reformed see the baptists going by and say, ‘they’re on their way to the restaurant, how terrible!”

  16. Zrim says:


    Is that like not inhaling?

  17. Zrim says:

    Rick, speaking of driving, I wonder what pops would say about Reformed who refrain from a long standing family tradition of going to the Indy 500 but who tune in during the last 30 laps. (Insert eye rolling and whistling here.)

  18. How many Charismatics does it take to change a light bulb?

    Only one since his/her hands are in the air anyway.
    Five. One to change the bulb and four to bind the spirit of darkness in the room.

    How many Calvinists does it take to change a light bulb?

    None. God has predestined when the lights will be on.

    How many neo-evangelicals does it take to change a light bulb?

    No one knows. They can’t tell the difference between light and darkness.

    How many TV evangelists does it take to change a light bulb?

    One. But for the message of light to continue, send in your donation today.

    How many liberals does it take to change a light bulb?

    At least ten, as they need to hold a debate on whether or not the light bulb exists. Even if they can agree upon the existence of the light bulb, they still may not change it to keep from alienating those who might use other forms of light.

    How many Anglicans or Catholics does it take to change a light bulb?
    None. They always use candles.

    How many campfire worship leaders does it take to change light bulb?

    One. But soon all those around can warm up to its glowing.

    How many Episcopalians does it take to change a light bulb?

    Ten. One to call the electrician, and nine to say how much they liked the old one better.
    Four. One to change the bulb. One to bless the elements. One to pour the sherry. And one to offer a toast to the old light bulb.

    How many Baptists does it take to change a light bulb?

    How many Southern Baptists does it take to change a light bulb?

    About 16,000,000. However, they are badly divided over whether changing the bulb is a fundamental need or not.

    How many Nazarenes does it take to change a light bulb?

    Two. One to change the bulb. Another to replace the new with the old after shaking it and finding it can be revived with a second blessing.
    Six. One woman to replace the bulb while five men review church lighting policy.

    How many United Church of Christ members does it take to change a light bulb?

    Eleven. One to change the light bulb. And ten more to organize a covered dish supper that will follow the changing of the bulb service.

    How many Lutherans does it take to change a light bulb?

    We read that we are to so fear and love God that we cannot by our own effort or understanding comprehend the replacement of an electromagnetic photon source. It is, rather by faith, NOT by our efforts (effected toward the failed worldly incandescence), that we truly see, and that our own works cannot fully justify us in the presence of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Of course, it is still dark.

    How many Amish does it take to change a light bulb?

    What’s a light bulb?

    How many Mormons does it take to change a light bulb?

    Five. One man to change bulb & four wives to tell him how to do it.

    How many Presbyterians does it take to change a light bulb?

    None. Lights will go on and off at predestined times.

    How many Unitarians does it take to change a light bulb?

    300. 12 to sit on the Board which appoints the Nominating and Personnel Committee. 5 to sit on the Nominating and Personnel Committee, which appoints the House Committee. 8 to sit on the House Committee, which appoints the Light Bulb changing committee. 4 to sit on the Light Bulb Changing Committee, which chooses who will screw in the Light Bulb–those 4 then give their own opinion of “screwing in methods” while the one actually does the installation. After completion it takes 100 individuals to complain about the method of installation and another 177 to debate the ecological impact of using the light bulb at all.

    How many United Methodists does it take to change a light bulb?

    We choose not to make a statement either in favor of or against the need for a light bulb. However, if in your own journey, you have found that a light bulb works for you, that is fine. You are invited to write a poem or compose a modern dance about your personal relationship to your light bulb and present it next month at our annual light bulb Sunday service, in which we will explore a number of light bulb traditions, including incandescent, fluorescent, three-way, long-lived, and tinted; all of which are equally valid paths to luminescence through Jesus Christ.

  19. Rick says:

    I don’t get it. Who of sound mind likes car racing?

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