Thursday, October 25, 2007

John MacArthur: Can one be an Arminian and still be saved?

I read from two different sources what John MacArthur thinks concerning salvation of Arminians... and really I ended up scratching my head... what does he really believe?

"So, they are diametrically opposed. The question comes, “Can somebody who holds an Arminian view be a Christian?” And I would hate to say they couldn’t be. I really believe that it is possible to be Arminian and to be a Christian…to misunderstand your human capability, to misunderstand the election, to misunderstand the extent of the atonement, even to misunderstand the irresistible nature of God’s saving grace, and even to think you could lose your salvation. But, at the same time--while being confused or ignorant of those things--to know that you’re a sinner and know that the only way of salvation is through Jesus Christ. I guess you could say that someone could be an Arminian and push those points far enough, where they could jeopardize my confidence that they really are a Christian. You could push the point of not being totally depraved far enough where you’re actually being saved by your own works, by your own belief, by your own ingenuity, by your own self-induced faith. And you could get to the point where you could really wonder whether someone understands that it’s all a work of God.
But, I think it would be going too far to say someone who holds an Arminian view, or anyone who holds an Arminian view, is, by virtue of that view, not a Christian. I think there are people who just don’t understand rightly those things, but who know they’re sinners and who cry out in their sin for the Lord to save them. They don’t understand how what they’re doing works together with the great purposes and power of God, and consequently can’t give God fully the glory He deserves for all of that, but they could be genuinely saved, by hoping in Christ and Christ alone." Source

Or this?

"He (Spurgeon) preached that both predestination and (limited) free-will were simultaneously in full force. He believed that in the end that salvation was wholly of God from start to finish, and yet God secures the complete cooperation of our wills in so-doing. He decried both antinomianism and fatalism (only predestination) and Arminianism (only free will) and said that anyone who denied either of these two truths was engaged in heresy.
He openly called both heresy. I tend to agree. I really like what this guy says since I had come to the same conclusions myself.
But he said something that confused me for a long time and said that John Wesley (a famous Arminian) was a man of God, yes he disagreed with him, but he said he had great respect for the man.
The best explanation I can come up for this is that Arminians are confused about how they came to Christ, but their definition of the atonement, and who Christ is is accurate, as is their view of sanctification (no striving by works), so it is possible Biblically to admit that Arminians are our brothers and sisters in Christ. It took me a lot of thought to get here however as at first glance I thought a heretical viewpoint always produces heretics who aren't saved.
The message I heard was that Arminians might be on the the right side of the line, but just barely, just a little more confused thinking about other related issues and the line is easily crossed. You don't have to get the finer points of theology to be saved, but certain basics are required and Arminianism appears to pass the test, barely, and only if you are willing admit that a faulty view of the atonment is not sufficient to block salvation. As time passes I realize that Spurgeon is essentially spouting double-speak, the definition of heresy is a soul-destroying perversion of either the Gospel or the nature of God. There is no such thing as a heresy that doesn't kill. Therefore, to be technically accurate, if you believe an Arminian can be a Christian, then to you, Arminianism is not heresy. However, many Arminians of today have swallowed enough other false doctrines to sink their ships so there is no need to argue about Arminianism. I for example was such a one. Spurgeon is consistent with most of his forebears however, including Augustine, who first faced a theology similar to Arminianism, and dealt with it as one would to a brother in Christ, and not as one would deal with a heretic who is outside the body. "

Now, talk about double speak! On one hand Arminians are saved, but are heretics and heresy kills... but as you keep reading John he is clear that they are not saved!

So which is it... or is he double minded?

Be Blessed,


rick said...

Iggy - sorry, I'm not following. It may be the post formatting making it hard to tell who is saying what (or it just may be that I'm not that bright).

I think it was Henry (Rick) Frueh that educated me that one can teach a heresy but not be a heretic. I'm still not sure about that but it is clear to me that error is error, that error is bad, but that I believed a lot of error when I first entered the Kingdom of God (receiving His forgiveness and submitting to His leadership).

If I'm reading Mac correctly, I thought he is saying something along the same lines, i.e., Arminianism is heresy but all Arminians are not heretics. I thought that was the same as what I read at CRN.Info about Calvinists?

Again, forgive me if I got this all wrong. My brain feels cloudy today.

iggy said...


The point I am trying to make... and I did a little emphasizing on the post...

I see that on one-hand JM states

"I really believe that it is possible to be Arminian and to be a Christian"

While agreeing with Spurgeon he states:

"He openly called both heresy. I tend to agree. I really like what this guy says since I had come to the same conclusions myself"

The states:

"There is no such thing as a heresy that doesn't kill. Therefore, to be technically accurate, if you believe an Arminian can be a Christian, then to you, Arminianism is not heresy."

now I get the gist of this the same as you do, yet, on one hand Ariminians are heretics... then on the other hand they are not... so I am asking which is it?

JM is not clear at all and leaves me wondering then if a heretic is not a heretic but is... and he can't be clear on this... how can he wage a war on others?

He is not consistent himself on this matter... as he agrees with Spurgeon then state otherwise.

Just an added thought there.

Be blessed,

rick said...

thanks for the clarification ... hey, i like the updated picture with knit cap on ... must be gettin' cold up there.


iggy said...


I see MacArthur doing this a lot... and they accuse emergents being like nailing Jello to the wall...

The intereting thing is that JM speaks on such over generalized terms he is saying Arminians are not saved, and that they are at the same time...

Now... try to nail that to the wall!

be blessed,

Chase Dart said...

I think the way this works is we are fallible men(remember Peter and Paul confronting him?) Peter just kept messing up it seems in scripture yet was the lead Apostle. Simply heresy damning people is like saying homosexuality damns you as heterosexuality gets you to heaven.(No I am not promoting sin) only trying to illuminate the fact we are all heretics before being saved(talking about timeline of life not eternity in God's eyes) and our theology will not be perfect until Christ's return since we ourselves do not reach perfection until then. We are saved by grace(faith, repentance, and sanctification flow from this) Romans 11:5-6 pretty much boils it down. Justice is demanded, Christ came willingly and in our place and this mercy is extended to who he wants(Romans 9:16) meaning he still gets to demand justice be served(it has in Christ) and for other's it's in hell(we all deserve this.)