I realize this isn't much of a dramatic testimony in comparison to those saved out of sinful lifestyles in their adult lives. They have cool testimonies to tell, but I get to say how God has been with me all along, and I have had a relationship with Christ for most of my life. The Gospel really is quite simple. I am a sinner, Christ is the Son of God and the only Savior, heaven is sweet, hell is hot, and by what Christ did through His death, burial and resurrection, my sins are forgiven.
My primary ministries have been evangelism and teaching Sunday School, but I have also enjoyed discussing Calvinism/Arminianism over the years. Calvinism/Arminianism should not divide fellowship or take our focus off evangelism. I am perfectly happy serving under a moderate Calvinist pastor or witnessing alongside Calvinist church members and I have been doing so for most of my life.
I am a Southern Baptist and member of the Society of Evangelical Arminians (SEA). I hold to total depravity, middle knowledge and eternal security. To the extent Arminianism is associated with denying these views, my accepting the label Arminian could confuse people. But this just gives me the opportunity to clarify that Arminianism is perfectly consistent with total depravity, middle knowledge and eternal security. Overall I find myself squarely within Classical Arminianism, so I find it's best to just say so.
I grew up in a conservative Baptist church, which unbeknownst to me, was more Calvinist then Arminian. They taught both predestination and freewill and said it was all a mystery. When I was in high school a friend challenged my views. I didn’t have a better explanation of Romans 9 than he did, so I became a reluctant Calvinist. Also reading Luther's Bondage of the Will led me to accept total depravity. But one night while I was reading scripture I came across Hebrews 10:26-29. I was shocked. Why hadn't this passage ever been talked about in Church? Up till this point, I had never questioned eternal security. I decided not to decide anything. I spent the next two years researching the issue and I came out of that process an Arminian.
Now this process of becoming an Arminian might help explain why I really like SEA and why I have to qualify calling myself an Arminian. When I first started looking into the issue, I wanted a non-Calvinist explanation of Romans 9, but I didn’t know of any. The only non-Calvinist I knew of was James Arminius but my friend had called him a heretic. Still I cautiously read his commentary on Romans 9 and some of his other writings. As anyone who has read Arminius’ works can tell you, it’s deep and fairly complex. Even though I benefited from struggling through, I was deeply impressed with the need for a simple and easy to access resource for people struggling with Calvinism. SEA fills that need. But since I came to my Arminian views via reading the works of James Arminius, not via an Arminian denomination such as the Methodists, Free Will Baptists or AoG, I find myself more closely aligned to Classical Arminian theology than Arminian denominations.
SEA brings together Arminians from various geographic regions and walks of life. SEA’s membership has theology professors to new converts, liberals to conservatives, charismatics to cessationalists, Freewill Baptists, Southern Baptists, Methodists, AoG and a host of church groups. Yet we are all united in Christ and in Evangelical Arminian views. So we come together to learn from each other, share ideas, fellowship, support each other. I count it quite a privilege to be a part.
One of the main goals of this blog is to 'meet in the middle'. You can have free will without giving up total depravity, God’s sovereignty and providence and eternal security. I understand that hard-line Calvinists are unlikely to give up their Calvinism so my goal is unlikely to be met in my lifetime. But I carry on none the less.