I entitled this post "Contra Arminians" and not "Contra Arminius" because when I consider the position of Dutch Theologian, Jacob Arminius, and my ministerial hero, John Wesley, they seem much less problematic than where much of modern Arminianism has gone. That is, my problem is not so much with classical Arminianism as with many modern expressions of "Arminianism." In the classical Arminianism of John Wesley, such doctrines as the total depravity of man were strongly affirmed. Arminius said, "In this [fallen] state, the free will of man towards the true good is not only wounded, infirm, bent, and weakened; but it is also imprisoned, destroyed and lost. And its powers are not only debilitated and useless unless they be assisted by grace, but it has no powers whatever except such as are excited by Divine grace." Arminius' statement is a strong affirmation of the total depravity of man and one which I most certainly assent to.
It's not that I've heard an outright rejection of our total depravity and helplessness from any Arminian I know, it's just that I've rarely, if ever, heard this doctrine strongly articulated even among my more conservative Arminian brethren at Asbury Theological Seminary. And what makes this de-emphasis so potentially damaging is not only that it's not true to Scripture but that it will also lead to a lessening of our estimation of the magnitude of our need for and the magnitude of the sacrifice of Christ in His crucifixion. A lessening of our estimation of our depravity can only lead to Pelagianism and the idea that we can in some way contribute to our own salvation. The strongest articulators of this fundamental doctrine are, as far as I know, all Calvinists like John Piper and Al Mohler.
The second doctrine that seems to be under attack in Arminian circles while being strongly affirmed in Calvinist circles is the omniscience of God. While I had no examples of Arminians rejecting total depravity, I have had experiences with Arminians who were flirting with Open Theism and I've heard that some professors at Nazarene Theological Seminary, which should be an Arminian bastion, have embraced this unfortunate heresy. I'm sure that if I talked to an Open Theist they would have some arguments for their belief which might make sense, perhaps even arguments from Scripture. But 2000 years of Scriptural interpretation with a belief in an all-knowing God who is above time is a stronger argument to me. I think it is extremely arrogant to think that we have somehow progressed in such a way that we have now finally discovered the real truth about God's relationship to time.
I'm still an Arminian. But I'm realizing that I may have overlooked some problems in the Arminian system and I may have oversimplified the Calvinist point of view to make it look worse than it really is. I know I can't reject Arminianism because certain Arminians are embracing heresy but it does make me wonder if Arminianism somehow predisposes people toward underestimating our sinful state or underestimating God's knowledge. I think some Calvinists would suggest such a thing and maybe they're right. But I don't think there's anything inherent in Arminian teaching that logically leads to those positions by any kind of necessity.
Well, if you read my ramblings and have any suggestions let me know. God bless you.