September 14, 2009

The Funniest Anti-Arminian Post I Have Ever Seen!

OK, this post by Triablogue is so absolutely ridiculous that I find it comical and wanted to share it. Here Steve Hays actually tries to claim that Arminianism is a form of Manichaeism . Wow. Just wow. For those not familiar with what Manichaeism is, let me say that this would be akin to Michael Moore calling Republicans Communist. Seriously.

Manichaeism was a deterministic theology that held that the whole of reality, especially the human being, was the product of a conflict with the spiritual forces of good and evil. All events, and all that is, are merely the manifestations of the various events that are occurring within the spiritual realm. Though it is very clear that Manichaeism is not Calvinism in the sense that it does not hold to a singular good monotheistic deity, it is also clear that it is much further from Arminianism, not only for the same reason, but also because it is deterministic.

This is also odd, since there is absolutely no historical link from Manichaeism to Armnianism, yet the historical link from Manichaeism to Calvinism is well documented. Calvinism is derived primarily from Augustinianism. Augustine was the one who first introduced deterministic ideas into the church. It is also important to note that Augustine was a Manichean before he was a Christian, and only turned back to more deterministic ways of thinking during his dealings with the heretic Pelagius.1

Now, Steve Hays's actual argument is because Arminians hold that there exist events and ends in the world which do not have their origin in God that there must therefore exist an equally powerful opposing force to God. Thus Arminianism must be dualistic, and must be Manichean. This 'argument' is so ridiculous that one must wonder how existence could have brought into being such a mind as to conceive it. All events and ends which occur only happen within the parameters established by God, and therefore, though there are events and ends which God did not cause, there are no events and ends that ever occur which are beyond God's power to control. This would be akin to saying that when my friend Chris's cat scratches the couch, it demonstrates that the cat is an equally opposing power to Chris. Yeah, that makes sense.

Now, I usually don't make posts like this. I'm a rather irenic fellow. But, I'm sorry, this bit is just so ridiculous that I just couldn't let it go. I mean, really? Really? This is what you are going to argue?

All I want to say is to all Calvinists out there, I have way too much respect for you to ever call the guys at Triablogue 'Calvinists'. Quite frankly, I don't know what to call them other than a group of sophistic "theologians" that need to have their armchairs reupholstered.

1It is important for me to say that I don't actually think that Augustine got his deterministic thoughts from Manichaeism . At least not directly anyway. I believe he got them from Plato (Augustine was also a classical Platonic rhetorian). However, it is important to note that many theologians have documented links between Manichaeism and some of Augustine's theology.


William Watson Birch said...

Sophistic, yes. Theologians? No. Nicely done. Though too brief :)

drwayman said...

Well played...

Jc_Freak: said...

I only used the word 'theologian' to make the armchair reference make sense.

Jc_Freak: said...

There Billy. I added quotation marks. :)

pchurcher87 said...

I find it rather odd indeed. Augustine, the real rather of what we call Calvinism, was himself a convert from Manicheanism. I believe it's rather obvious that he was greatly influenced by their theology and never fully let go. Perhaps the Triablogue lot should take a long hard look and have a taste of their own medicine.
(That's not me knocking Augustine by the way, just explaining why some of his theology was on time off the mark!)

bethyada said...

I found the Triablogue post pretty appalling, both for what he claims to believe and his poor knowledge of Arminianism.

That God can bring good from evil by no means implies he causes the evil. Arminians think God brings good from evil.

And the post seems like a denial of the existence of Satan. Satan's power is negligible to God's power, but it is still a significant power in this age, and in opposition to God.

bossmanham said...

Ironic that all of us have held off on playing the Manicheanism card on the Calvinists, only to have Hays use it on us.(?) What a strange guy.

Kevin Jackson said...

Great post, love the analogies, especially the cat analogy.

What it boils down to is that Steve has a misunderstanding (perhaps deliberate) of what it means for God and the devil to be genuine competitors. Steve's error is in assuming that genuine competition necessitates equal competition.

God and the devil are genuine competitors. This is because God is good, and the devil is evil. The devil freely does things displease God. God does not deterministically make the devil do evil things. In this sense Arminians understand they are genuine competitors.

Yet, as you clearly point out, they are not equal competitors. God is infinitely more powerful. He eliminates evil in ways and times that he sees fit, according to his great mercy and love.

Boise State vs Miami of Ohio is genuine competition, but not equal competition. Thus the Broncos won 48-0. (Sorry, had to slip that one in there.) ;)

Bob Anderson said...

Well said. It clearly that these guys at Triablogue are not interested in real research, but in coming up with fanciful ideas that sound interesting to their own ears and foolish to those who know.

I wonder if they understand the concept of objective, verifiable truth.

peter lumpkins said...


A good read. Thankz!

Also humorous is at least some Primitive Baptist groups attempt to trace their roots as 5 Point Calvinists back to the NT through...Is there a need to guess? Manichaeism!

They write:

"Note the year, 1163 A. D. The French historian, Mezeray, verifies that our spiritual ancestors were “Calvinistic” in the year 1163, or 346 years before John Calvin was born! What this tells us is that, centuries before Calvin (and this goes as far back as the apostolic times), our spiritual forebears believed in divine election, absolute predestination, irresistible grace, the effectual call, limited atonement, and other points of so-called “Calvinistic” doctrine...

"[Of] Calvin says Mezeray, “His views overthrew all ceremonies...and, consequently, the Waldenses left Luther’s orthodoxy for communion with the reformed churches under Calvin..."

"[Moreover Mezeray] observes, the pope, at the Council of Tours, made a decree against heretics, i. e., a kind of Manicheans, who held almost the same doctrines as the Calvinists, and were properly Henricans and Vaudois…Calvin’s doctrines were more conformed to the Anabaptists in the valleys, than Luther’s." (//link)

Sure do like in a funny, funny time.

With that, I am...


Richard Coords said...

Here is another quote too:

Jacob Arminius stated concerning Pelagianism and Manichaeism:

“For as, when a departure is once made from the truth, the descent towards falsehood becomes more and more rapid; so, by receding from falsehood, it is possible for men to arrive at truth, which is often accustomed to stand as the mean between two extremes of falsehood. Such indeed is the state of the matter in Pelagianism and Manicheism. If any man can enter on a middle way between these two heresies, he will be a true Catholic, neither inflicting an injury on Grace, as the Pelagians do, nor on Free Will as do the Manichees.” (The Works Of James Arminius, Vol I Section 3, Article XXX[(X])

Dan Martin said...

Good stuff, Martin. One further thought, using your excellent Chris and Cat analogy. Though Chris (and we) know he and the cat aren't equals, the cat, if it's like most cats I've known, has not gotten the memo. Hence the competition.

I think in some ways this parallels our cosmos. God is supreme and Christ has won the victory, but Satan and his principalities do not seem (at least by their behavior) to understand that they're vanquished, so the battle rages on...and very real casualties continue to be inflicted.