Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Arminian Web Presence

As an Arminian, one frustration I have is with the dominance of the Calvinist view on the internet. In this post I want to do a little musing on why this is the case. Why is the Calvinist web presence so dominant?

Reasons for the Calvinist dominance on the internet:
1) Calvinists are writers and authors. They love studying doctrine. They are articulate. Arminians are too busy "changing the world" to spend time writing. Unfortunatly these differences in approaches have resulted in a disproportionate Calvinist presence on the web.

2) Calvinists have lots of big names: Piper, MacArthur, Sproul, White, etc. These big names have big web sites, with lots of free resources. There are no really big Arminian names out there.

3) Monergism.com: This is an excellent resource that I use myself. All free. All Reformed.

4) The young Calvinist resurgence: Let's face it, there are lots of young Calvinists. If they were all new believers that would be wonderful. Unfortunately many come from nominally Arminian backgrounds. Anyway, all that to point out that younger people are much more active on the web, and these young Calvinists are busy busy busy online.

5) Lots of Non-Calvinists do not consider themselves Arminian, and this limits the effectiveness of the Arminian web presence. Over and over I hear people say that they are neither Calvinist or Arminian. However, if you question them on their doctrine you find in most cases that they're nominally Arminian. Talk to your average Joe Baptist, and there's a good change that he believes in the P in TULIP, but is Arminian in other respects. However, if you ask him what Arminianism is you're likely to get a blank stare, or perhaps a lecture on how a believer can't lose his salvation. :)

6) Arminians seem to be more siloed than Calvinists. We're too busy in our various denominations to be troubled with Calvinists or even with other Arminians that have slightly differing views. This is very true of my own denomination.

7) Calvinism is easier to define than Arminianism. 5 Points. Tulip. Arminianism is more a rejection of Calvinism than a movement all on its own. As a result Arminian Theology is not a nice little package. We know Jesus died for everyone. That's about it for a starting point.

This disproportionate Calvinist web presence is a problem. Average Christians are not getting a fair representation of what Armininaism is really is all about: the Goodness of God. If a Christian has been unaware of the A/C debate and then begins to look into it on the web, he will find the Calvinist view well represented, but not so the Arminian view. More than likely he will find only Calvinist resources that give a caricaturization of the Arminian view. This disproportionate web presence and dishonest caricaturization I think is in large part the cause of the young Calvinist resurgence. Good Arminian resources are hard to find. Fortunately, this is starting to change.

Signs of the growing Arminian Web presence:
1) An Explosion in Arminian Blogs: A year ago Arminian blogs were few and far between. Roy Ingle's Arminian Today was the first one I ever remember running across, and it took me a while to find that one. Now there are so many Arminian blogs I can't keep up with them all. This is a fantastic development. For example, check out this list of blogs and resources that Billy from Classical Arminianism has come up with. A year ago I would have done a cartwheel for the list like that.

2) Networking: Arminians are starting to find each other, and outside of our respective denominational "silos". Some of this is due to the blogging I mentioned above. Some it is also unfortunately due to excessively negative interactions with Calvinists. We have had to learn to defend ourselves. (May we be graceful in the process.)

3) A dedicated Arminian resource site: Evangelical Arminians. This site is beginning to make an impact. I hope that over time it will become the monergism.com for Arminians.

4) The slumbering Non-Calvinist "silent majority" is starting to awake: This seems particularly evident in the Southern Baptist denomination, with the Building Bridges conference, and now the upcoming John 3:16 Conference. Limited Atonement is not an easy thing to get Bible believers to buy into (for obvious reasons). As insulated Christians become aware of this terrible doctrine, they will have a strong reaction against it. This awakening is starting to take place.

I would be curious for other's thoughts on this topic as well. Comments? :)

16 comments:

Godismyjudge said...

Dear Kevin,

I think your point #5 nailed it. My experience has been that there are more Calvinists than Arminians, but more non-Calvinist/non-Arminians than Calvinists. At Dort, part of the issue was predestination, but part of the issue was how to deal with differences. Arminians tend to be more accepting of differences, and as such Calvinists have more nexus than Arminians.

God be with you,
Dan

travelah said...

A great post .. indeed, there is an upsurge against this elitism and theistic fatalism called Calvinism in spite of it's resurgence among it's "young turks". Christians should be prepared to oppose such with the facts of Christianity rather than the musings of 16th century philosophy.

The FACTS about salvation:
Freed to believe by God's grace
Atonement for All
Conditional Election
Total Depravity
Security in Christ

Blessings in Christ,

trav
http://travelah.blogspot.com/

Dawn said...

Kevin, you said, "More than likely he will find only Calvinist resources that give a caricaturization of the Arminian view. This disproportionate web presence and dishonest caricaturization I think is in large part the cause of the young Calvinist resurgence."

This was my experience when I first became aware of the issue. I did NOT want to label myself Arminian because of the dishonest caricaturization of Arminians presented by Calvinists. I had no desire to find out what Arminians truly believed.

Thanks be to God, I ran across a comment by Ben Henshaw (Kanagroodort) on the Unashamed of Grace blog and from there found Billy Birch (Classical Arminian) and learned the truth about Arminianism. From there, I've found all the rest of you guys. I can now proudly say that I AM an Arminian and defend the label against Pelagianism or Semi-Pelagianism.

It is a real blessing to see so many Arminians proclaiming the truth about God's character and to see an official site (SEA) for helping to spread this truth and in the process refute Calvinism.

Arminian said...

Good post. I would mention 2 things, one a correction, and one an addition.

1. I would not say that "Arminianism is more a rejection of Calvinism than a movement all on its own." It really is another biblical theology. It is true that it is leass systemized than Calvinism, and that it is more of a theological trajectory than a detailed systematic. However, it does have its own positive stand on the issues. I don't think you meant to imply this, but it is not merely a denial of Calvinism. For example, while Calvinism might hold that God does not truly love all people and want them to be saved (all their caveats notwithstanding), Arminianism holds that he does.

2. I would add that Arminians are not as active on the internet becasue they are in the vast majority. Those in the majority do not feel the need as much to spread their views. Many Arminians and non-Calvinists have not even heard of Calvinism and are shocked when they learn of its seemingly horrifying doctrine. But minority positions often feel great urgency in spreading their views and are much more active in doing so. As a minority that by and large have "converted" to Calvinist theology from theology that is closer to Arminianism, they are much more motivated to spread their views. But with the rising tide of Calvinists spreading their views, we now see Arminians rising up to respond and stay the tide. May the Lord grant us success!

SLW said...

Very interesting. I think you're right in saying that a lot of Arminians don't identify as such. I think that may be because they have never read Arminius, or studied his teachings, and don't consider themselves his disciples. They just read the Bible and believe what it says, and often never realize that their approach naturally developed an Arminian bent in their belief system. Not until they come across a synopsis of Arminian doctrine, which just so happens to jive with their beliefs can they say, "I guess I am an Arminian." I wonder if it's possible to stumble into Calvinism they same way (I don't think so!).

Pizza Man said...

Thanks for your comments everyone.

Dawn - I have appreciated Ben and Billy as well, they are a blessing.

Arminian - Excellent points, I agree with your distinction in point #1.

SLW, I think you are right on he money. A natural reading of the Bible leans towards an Arminian interpretation - that is certainly true in my case. I believe that it is rare to stumble into Calvinism as you say. One has to be indoctrinated in it.

Jnorm888 said...

Gordon D. Fee is a scholar and he is also a minster for the Assembly of God denomination. I don't think he wrote a book on the issue of "faith, grace, free will....ect." but it would be nice to hear his views about such topics.

He is mostly known for his exegesis books, and New Testament greek studies type stuff.

This is his webpage:
http://www.gordonfeeonline.com/


I like his book about New Testament exegesis. You can get it at Amazon for about $1.65

http://www.amazon.com/New-Testament-Exegesis-Handbook-Students/dp/066425442X


I could be wrong, but it seems as if the Arminians are just coming out of the closet. Now that they are seeing Calvinism rise in recent times.

But I would like to see what more Arminian scholars have to say about the issue. You are right about the Calvinists. They have alot of big name heavy hitters.



JNORM888

Jnorm888 said...

Arminian,


I agree with you, that the Majority of American christians are noncalvinists, and alot may not even know that it still exist.

About 8 to 12 years ago I read something on the net that thought it was a relic of the past.

Boy were they wrong. So yeah, I 100%ly agree



JNORM888

Pizza Man said...

Hey Jnorm,

I've heard of Gordon Fee, but haven't read much of his work. I'll check out his site.

On a related note, I hear that a groups of Wesleyan are coming out with a Wesleyan study Bible in the near future, that is a great development.

a helmet said...

Hi,

I was directed here via www.evangelicalarminians.org

Note, that the Calvinism vs. Arminianism dualism is actually a calvinistic invention. They say, "we are Calvinists. If you disagree with us, then you are Arminian" -- stamp on your forehead . An then you are supposed to look into a mirror and see the stamp on your forehead and then go and defend "Arminianism". So who does actually run the show and set the rules? -- This is why there are so many, many Non-calvinists who do not consider themselves arminian either. But simply biblical christians, as they want to be seen.

It is good that there is a growing response to the Calvinism and the doctrines of grace on the net.

I lately wrote "Monergism, Synergism and the Temple of God" on my blog on the Gospel of John.

It deals with the calvinistic premise of their God-versus-man view. You might check it out.

Greetings
Kehrhelm

Pizza Man said...

Hi Kehrhelm,

Good point, not every non-Calvinist is an Arminian - even though Calvinists sometimes use the term that way.

Thanks for stopping by.

William Watson Birch said...

Kev,

I noticed that the link to Classical Arminianism was the old website and not the current blog: http://classicalarminianism.blogspot.com/

I miss that old website . . .

Kevin Jackson said...

Thanks Billy, I updated it. I better check SEA too, I think this was on there also.

George Bryson said...

I just happened on your site (or as our Reformed friends would say, was foreordained to find you. One of the questions I hear a lot is "why don't you write a book against Arminianism" or why not explain "why it is that you are not an Arminian"?

For many years I thought about writing a book explaining why I am not an Arminian but never felt a need to write a book against Arminianism. The reason is that I am not against Arminianism the way I am against Calvinism. It never offends me and I do not see it as a threat to the health and well being of the church of Jesus Christ.

I do not see Arminianism on a agressive campain trying to win everone over to their views, even if it means misleading their potential converts. For these and many other reasons, I do not see Arminianism as a threat. So it is difficult for me to justify the kind of time it takes me to write a book that I would be happy with.

My disagreements with Arminians are real but not usually serious. When an Arminian scholar represents his views, he does not usually feel a need to hide anything or to hold anything back. They tell you what they believe and why

This is not always so for many Calvinists. I am happy to see a lot of Arminians representing themselves and I do not think they will find a need to become rude, personally attack those they disagree with, deliberately attempt to insult or offend non-Arminians. I am sure there are exceptions.

On many Calvinist websites to be rude and crude is considered cool and hip. May it never be so with Evangelical Arminians. In Christ, George

Kevin Jackson said...

Hi Mr. Bryson, thanks for the comment. When I started investigating Calvinism, your book on the 5 points was one of the first that I read.

You make some great points. We as Arminians don't usually aggressively promote our view. We are content to set the record straight on what we believe. The growing Arminian web presence is in large part a response to aggressive recruitment by Calvinists.

The center of Arminian Theology is that God is good, and that he wants everyone to be saved. That is a statement that you can no doubt agree with. Whatever issues we may disagree on are secondary in nature. :)

Thanks for stopping by.

Kevin Jackson

Kevin Jackson said...

By the way Mr Bryson, would you mind if we posted your comment here on the Arminians web site? evangelicalarminians.org? I think others might find it insightful.