This article first appeared in the December 1, 1965 issue of The Standard Bearer, under the rubric "Trying the Spirits". It was written by Rev.Robert C. Harbach, a PRC minister.
The system of religion known as Arminianism originally came from Rome. It was also meant to, and does, lead to Rome. Indeed, Arminianism is the point at which Romanism and Pelagianism meet. But then Arminianism is also the back alley to Atheism. It received its notorious sobriquet from its namesake Jacob Arminius, pastor of the Reformed church in Amsterdam, and later professor of theology at Leyden. He had been educated in the Reformation doctrine of Calvin, but regarded Calvin's teaching especially with reference to free will, predestination, election, reprobation, grace and perseverance, as being too severe. A man bold and enterprising, he soon began to let it be known that he was not in sympathy with the received doctrine of the Reformed churches. He began publicly and privately to vehemently attack the reputation -and authority of the renowned theologians of the Reformed church, including Calvin, Zanchius, Beza, Ursinus and Martyr. He especially put forth the opinions that the love of God is extended to all men and that Christ died for every soul of humankind.
Where did Arminius get this philosophy, out of his own head? Not at all: he picked up some of it from Rome while conferring with the Loyolans, then imbibed more from the Socinians while in Poland. One of his main reasons for discarding predestination and propagating his principles was to lay down a basis for brotherly relations with and eventual return to the Romish church.
The Arminians, cohorts and supporters of this heretic, were also known as Remonstrants. They rallied in large numbers like an underground movement to the ensign of Arminius and entering into a conspiracy, formed what they called a body separate from the rest of the Reformed ministers, and perpetrated a schism in the Reformed churches. They became known as Remonstrants when they presented to the states general a libelous document which they called a remonstrance, in which they stated their grievances and sought relief. Along with their slanderous protest, the Arminians also presented their so-called articles of the Remonstrants. These articles contain the heterodox tenets of Arminianism. He who preaches in harmony with them is a false prophet. It should also be noted in regard to them that B.B. Warfield in his The Plan of Salvation places Wesleyan (Evangelical) Arminianism under the general heading, "Supernaturalistic," but that Remonstrantism he categorizes "Naturalistic." A cursory perusal of the following Remonstrant articles will reveal that this judgment is correct.
"That God, from all eternity, determined to bestow salvation on those He foresaw would persevere unto the end; and to inflict everlasting punishments on those who should continue in their unbelief, and resist His divine succors, so that election was conditional, and reprobation in like manner the result of foreseen infidelity and persevering wickedness.
"That Jesus Christ, by His sufferings and death, made an atonement for the sins of all mankind in general, and of every individual in particular; that however, none but those who believe in him can be partakers of divine benefits." In other words, God's intention was universal, but the efficacy of His purpose may be restricted by man's refusal to believe.
"That this grace is offered to all, and does not force men to act against their inclinations, but may be resisted and rendered ineffectual by the perverse will of the impenitent sinner."
That the regenerate may lose true justifying faith, fall from a state of grace, and die in their sins."
The above articles of Arminianism are today readily swallowed as the gospel truth, and the majority of professing Christians could not for the life of them see anything wrong in them. Many who claim to be Calvinistic are thoroughly blinded to the dangers of Arminianism, are completely sold on its popular conceptions, and give plain evidence of this by their Arminianistic vernacular, their preference for Arminian evangelists and preachers, as well as their support of Arminian organizations and enterprises. They would not only agree with the Remonstrants, but they would also agree with the following expressions of a former "Presbyterian" minister. "The Rev. Albert Barnes in his sermon entitled 'The Way of Salvation' expresses himself thus: 'This atonement was for all men. It was an offering made for the race. We judge that He died for all. He tasted death for every man. He is the propitiation for the sins of the world. He came that whosoever would believe on Him should not perish, but have eternal life. The full benefit of the atonement is offered to all men. In perfect sincerity God makes the offer. He has commissioned His servants to go and preach the gospel—that is, the good news that salvation is provided for them—to every creature. He that does not this—that goes to offer the gospel to a part only, to elect persons only, or that supposes that God offers the gospel only to a portion of mankind—violates his commission, practically charges God with insincerity, makes himself wise above what is written, and brings great reproach on the holy cause of redemption. The offer of salvation is not made by man, but by God. It is His commission, and it is His solemn charge that the sincere offer of heaven should be made to every creature, I stand as the messenger of God . . . that, if any perish, it will be because they choose to die, and not because they are straitened in God. I have no feeling for any other gospel. I have no right hand of fellowship to extend for any scheme that does not say that God sincerely offers all the bliss of heaven to every guilty, wandering child of Adam.'
"From this abstract, who would suppose that its author was not an Arminian of the boldest type'? Here is exhibited a general, a universal atonement for every child of Adam—a provision to be sincerely tendered toall mankind. Is not this real Wesleyan Arminianism!" (T.N. Ralston, Elements of Divinity, 249-50). It is, indeed. It took an Arminian to spot that this is not Presbyterian language; that it is not Calvinistic, but very un-Reformed. It is the sophistical line of John Wesley, not the biblical line of John Calvin. It was the former who taught that God is a God of love, not to some, but to all men; that as the Father and Creator of all, He stands in the same relation to all, loves them all; that He not only loves all men without distinction, but all men without exception. He claimed that a particular love of God to the elect was not in harmony with man's innate knowledge of God. He believed that Christ died for absolutely all men; that he is to be offered, to all; that all are to be invited to come to Him. He preached a sufficient grace given to all men to influence the human mind in favor of God's salvation (Buck's Theol. Die.). Thus Wesley furthered the semi-Pelagianism of Arminius and the Remonstrants. So true is this that we agree with A.M. Toplady when he said, "Was I a believer of the Pythagorean metempsychosis, I should certainly conceive that the soul of Arminius was transmigrated into that particular system of flesh and blood known by the name of John Wesley." For his Arminianism he was, as today Billy Graham is, deservedly extolled by some of the Romish church.
The doctrinal position of Billy Graham* is principally that of the above articles of the Remonstrants, and exactly that of the above Wesleyan Arminianism. He holds to free will, resistible grace, universal redemption, conversion before faith and faith before regeneration. He believes man to be merely very far gone from original righteousness, but not wholly gone. He preaches that man is a sinner, but he omits the total depravity of man. His Arminian free will is evident in his Peace With God, p. 49, where he states that man has a "gift of free choice." Now anyone who believes the faith of the Reformers will "reject all that is repugnant to this, concerning the free will of man, since man is but a slave!" (Belgic Conf., XIV). What does Graham meant by "free choice"? This, that it "is meaningless if there is only one possible path to follow" (ibid., p. 44). This is nothing more than that Remonstrant doctrine that man "is able to will and to choose, or not to will and not to choose, all manner of good presented to" him. "This is an innovation and an error." (Canons, III-IV, R. III). For "all men are conceived in sin . . . incapable of saving good, prone to evil, dead in sin, and in bondage thereto, and without the regenerating grace of the Holy Spirit, they are neither able nor willing to return to God, to reform the depravity of their nature, nor to dispose themselves to reformation" (ibid., III). This being the very truth of the pure gospel, then the mere natural man has absolutely "only one possible path to follow," and that is not to return to God, but to go farther down the road of death and bondage.
But Graham, like Erasmus, is enamored with the Pelagian conception of man's will. "We have a chance to choose between the Devil's clever promises and God's sure Word" (PWG, p. 48). Not so, but "that others who are called by the gospel obey the call, and are converted, is not to be ascribed to the proper exercise of free will, whereby one distinguishes himself above others, equally furnished with grace sufficient for faith and conversion, as the proud heresy of Pelagius maintains; but it must be wholly ascribed to God" (Canons, III-IV, 10). More modern Remonstrantism follows. "The same two paths that God set before Adam still lie before us" (PWG, 49), i.e., we have "freedom to choose or reject, freedom to obey God's commands or to go contrary to them" (p.44) . . . We are still free to choose (p.49) . . . Never is there a moment when you cannot deliberately choose to go with one or the other," i.e., with God or the Devil (p.60). Here is positive proof that Billy Graham is Pelagian, a thorough-going Arminian,
Rev. Robert C. Harbach (1914-1996) was born in Riverdale, MD on July 27, 1914. He graduated from the Protestant Reformed Seminary in 1955 and was ordained in October of that year. He served congregations in Lynden, Washington (1955-1963), Kalamazoo, Michigan (1963-1974), and as Home Missionary (1974-1979). He retired from the active ministry in 1979. He passed to glory on December 14, 1996.