“Arminian” is a term often misunderstood and misrepresented, in many cases simply equated with Pelagianism or as denying “the doctrines of grace” (many don’t understand that it strongly affirms grace, but emphasizes ‘prevenient’ rather than ‘irresistible’ grace). Another common misconception is that the motivating idea in Arminianism is human freedom (it’s not; God’s love, grace, good character, and reputation are the key motivating affirmations). This is apparent when one reads good primary sources, i.e., robust Arminian theologians such as Arminius, Wesley, Tom Oden, Stan Grenz, etc.
Here is a basic characterization of Arminian theology from Roger Olson:
I consider anyone a fellow Arminian who is an orthodox Protestant Christian (justification by grace alone through faith alone) who believes in human inability to initiate a saving relationship with God apart from prevenient grace (whatever they might call that), corporate election, prevenient grace (again, whatever they might call it), universal atonement, and resistible grace and does not believe God “designed, ordained, or rendered certain” the fall of humanity and all of its consequences. (From his blog post here)
Fleshing out his characterization of Arminianism elsewhere, Olson offers the following points:
First, Jesus Christ is the perfect revelation of the character of God; there is [no] “hidden God” with different dispositions and intentions behind him. Second, the character of God is unconditional love. (Sing “The Love of God” and similar songs.) Third, Christ died for everyone and wants everyone to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4-6). Fourth, God is sovereign, but he is sovereign over his own sovereignty. Fifth, God is in no sense the author of sin and evil and does not “design, ordain and govern” evil. Sixth, election is corporate and predestination is conditional (foreknowledge). Seventh, we do not earn our salvation, but we do cooperate with God’s prevenient grace, accept the gift of his Son and salvation, and that is our choice. Eighth, God does derives no pleasure or glory from hell.
So, what do you think? Are you an Arminian? Why or why not?