Dear Mr. Arminius,
I am truly sorry for your loss. Your reputation over the past century has been diminished at the hands of believers everywhere who hold to free-will and Calvinist theology. I, along with multitudes of others, have used your name in vain. We have ascribed the fruits of your theological studies to the works of another man, much more notorious than yourself. Many adherents to modern evangelicalism’s methods of bringing souls to Christ by a simple act of the will apart from a work of grace are lumped together in a category of aberrant theology we call Arminianism. I have realized, to my chagrin, this is giving them far more credit than they deserve. To call preachers who ask lost souls to recite a canned sinner’s prayer devoid of repentance an Arminian is an insult to your good name. Preachers who teach, either directly or indirectly, man’s innate ability to choose Christ contrary to his sinful nature, should not be labeled with your name but with the name of a heretic from ages ago; Pelagius.
Pelagius long ago swung open the gate to the religious broad road leading to destruction. It is paved with his theology of self-righteousness that many people today find smooth and luxurious. Many who call themselves ‘seekers’ will turn down this path, convinced by pastors everywhere they can follow Jesus and reach Heaven, only without all that ‘denying yourself and taking up your cross’ business that the narrow road demands. These seekers believe they have found the inroad to lasting happiness, peace, health, wealth and heavenly reward. This theology, born in the pit of hell, does not remotely resemble your beliefs. I regret ever having called it so. You believed in man’s total depravity. So do I. You believed that no man comes to Jesus unless the Father draws him. I agree. Where we differ lies in the meaning of ‘draw’. Sadly, this is where my apology to you must halt. I believe as the bible speaks, that all who the Father gives to the Son will come to him. You believed in prevenient grace, whereby the Father, through the act of the Holy Spirit, loosens the heart from its bondage in sin, thus allowing man to freely choose to accept or reject the offer of salvation from sin through Jesus Christ.
That all sounds well and good, my dear sir, but I cannot agree with a saving grace that is resistible. In such a scenario why would anyone so touched by grace then refuse it? What causes these souls to differ from those who accept salvation? Are they simply smarter, or wiser than the multitudes that don’t? Is there some inherent quality in the character of those who believe? Do they simply have more faith built into their constitutions?
Is it not more believable to say God has chosen some to be saved and left others to wallow in their sins? That the only factor causing men to differ is the sovereign grace of God, who brings all those he has predestined and called to glory? I believe so. Man has no island of righteousness within his corrupt heart, no matter how small you may make it appear, in which he can stand and freely choose to serve God. Teaching this error creates a small hairline fracture in the foundation of orthodox Christian doctrine. Admittedly, it appears to many an insignificant flaw, but as history has proved, the crack widens over time, threatening to collapse the whole structure.
While I do not blame you personally for the heretical teachings on salvation and grace prevalent in the modern church, I do believe your theology left enough wiggle room for false teachers to diminish God’s glory and ascribe some, if not most of it, to man and his greatly touted freedom of choice. I’m sure a man of your reasoning, if allowed to gaze into the future, would have seen the grievous error of defending man’s autonomy in salvation and would have renounced it. Alas, hindsight is 20/20, if I may be allowed to indulge the cliche’. This is why I cannot apologize to you in full for your beliefs. Being dead, you can neither accept nor reject it, but hopefully I have cleared your name, in certain regards, to those who read this letter. I will endeavor in all my future communications to refrain from using the term Arminianism when discussing the graceless doctrines of salvation rooted in the teachings of Pelagius. I will give credit where credit is due. Please, forgive my past misrepresentations of your beliefs.
A Believer in God’s Sovereignty in Salvation