Theology


Within the broad scope of Church history, Arminianism is closely related to Calvinism (or Reformed theology), and the two systems share both history and many doctrines in common. Nonetheless, they are often viewed as rivals within Evangelicalism because of their disagreement over details of the doctrines of divine predestination and salvation. Faiths leaning at least in part in the Arminian direction include Methodists, Free Will Baptists, General Baptists, Churches of Christ, Disciples of Christ, Church of the Nazarene, Seventh-day Adventists, Mennonites, Pentecostals, and Charismatics. Denominations leaning in the Calvinist direction are grouped as the Reformed churches and include Particular Baptists, Reformed Baptists, Presbyterians, and Congregationalists. The majority of Southern Baptists, including Billy Graham, accept Arminianism with an exception allowing for a doctrine of eternal security. Many see Calvinism as growing in acceptance,and some well-known Southern Baptists such as Albert Mohler and Mark Dever have been trying to lead the Southern Baptist Convention to a Reformed theological orientation. The majority of Lutherans hold to a third view of salvation and election that was taught by Philip Melanchthon.

The Five articles of Remonstrance that Arminius’ followers formulated in 1610 state beliefs regarding (I) conditional election, (II) unlimited atonement, (III) total depravity, (IV) total depravity and resistible grace, and (V) possibility of apostasy.
Arminian theology usually falls into one of two groups — Classical Arminianism, drawn from the teaching of Jacobus Arminius — and Wesleyan Arminian, drawing primarily from Wesley. Both groups overlap substantially.

In my wanderings on Christian blogs over the past few months or so, I’ve seen the terms “Emergent” and “Emerging Church” pop up more and more often. I’ve kept wondering what exactly that means, and now Michael Patton has finally written a fantastic article on Parchment and Pen defining the Emerging church, and not coincidentally also giving a fantastic definition/synopsis of Evangelical beliefs, Catholic beliefs, and Eastern Orthodox beliefs, as well as of Orthodoxy itself. I can’t recommend enough.

He follows up soon after with an Obituary: The Emerging Church, essentially declaring the movement/set of ideas dead, which I admit I’m quite relieved at as its ideas appear to me to have been quite dangerous, a sort of extreme form of the connection with modern culture which some Christians seek.

Between Two Worlds highlighted this today-

From philosophy professor James Spiegel:

  1. Augustine (5th century): Remember that you are a citizen of another kingdom.
  2. Martin Luther (16th century): Expect politicians to be corrupt.
  3. Thomas Aquinas (13th century): God has made himself known in nature.
  4. John Calvin (16th century): God is sovereign over all, including our suffering.
  5. Jonathan Edwards (18th century): God is beautiful, and all beauty is divine.
  6. Thomas a’Kempis (15th century): Practice self-denial with a passion.
  7. John Wesley (18th century): Be disciplined and make the best use of your time.
  8. Fyodor Dostoevsky (19th century): God’s grace can reach anyone.
  9. Dietrich Bonhoeffer (20th century): Beware of cheap grace.
  10. Alvin Plantinga (21st century): Moral virtue is crucial for intellectual health.

Full article

The talk on Christian blogs lately is all about African Pentecostalism; most hail its rapid growth and particularly explosive recent popularity with enthusiasm, but you don’t have to look far to find it more worrisome than reassuring.

For instance, Christianity Today recently published an article reviewing Ogbu Kalu’s The Africanness of African Pentecostalism, a book exploring in detail the origins, characteristics, and movement of African Pentecostalism, and essentially arguing that African Pentecostalism sprang up on its own almost completely without help or influence from outer/Western sources(i.e. missionaries). The book, and the review, both focus on the cultural and social aspects of the movement, more concerned with whether the movement is culturally original that the theological ramifications and implications behind it, but what they do say about the movement itself is both highly revealing and worrisome .

More to the point, unlike the original preaching of the gospel message, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit does not need a foreign missionary. And the nature of African spirituality is such that ‘from the earliest contact with the gospel, Africans have tended to appropriate its charismatic dimensions, attracted to the extra power offered by the new religion, and stamped it with an African identity.’ On the ground, local believers spontaneously experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit in the context of recurrent revivals and a perennial quest for spiritual power—much to the consternation of foreign missionaries, whose fastidious norms and control mechanisms were thus subverted. Western (Pentecostal) outsiders were only invited after the fact.”

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