Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Conditionalism Charged As Being Arminian

Conditional Time Salvation is Arminianism. Once one understands the system well, this is something that he will see. See it easily. This seems to be a common experience of those who have renounced this late 19th century invention, most notably those today who are being charged as being part of the “liberal” movement. One of the most notable examples of this was the experience shared by Elder Thomas Mann in his 2002 sermon Re-thinking Conditional Time Salvation, in which he ably exposed many of the flaws of the modern heresy.

He stated:

"One of the objections that I had to the doctrine when I first began to see this years ago was that it becomes an Arminian system applied to time."

"What I found though years ago...I remember hearing men stand up and preach 'Salvation in heaven is all of grace!' And I love that, that's exactly right. Can't do a thing to earn it. But then they would turn and say 'But if you wanna be blessed in time, you've gotta work for it."

"The problem that I remember having, this collision of thoughts in my brain years ago, probably fifteen years ago. I was thinking why is it we have made time salvation Arminian?"

"What it came to be was heaven is by grace but your blessings in time are by your works."

"Well, that kind of helps us get at the doctrine a little bit. An Arminian system applied to time."

I can relate to the minister’s experience, as I saw the exact same thing.

The earliest charge I personally have found, however, was that of Elder John Clark in 1875. Though not directed at time salvation itself, it charges the assumption (i.e. command implies ability) made in the mind of those who opposed gospel preaching to the lost, which would eventually become part of the conditional framework when it developed a short while later.

Clark wrote:

"To preach to men upon the ground that they have power to do what is commanded, or to refuse to preach to them because they have not the power, shows that the confidence is in the flesh and not in God; that they depend upon the will of the flesh and not upon the power God, and that is the very essence, double refined, of Arminianism" (John Clark, What To Preach and How To Preach,Zion's Advocate--August 1875).

Writing around the turn of the 20th century, Elder David Bartley gave a more direct charge against conditionalism itself. This makes sense seeing that the system was now gaining ground within the Primitive Baptist denomination.

He wrote:

"Any conditional salvation is necessarily of works, and entitled to a reward, therefore all conditional salvation is legal, yea and nay, and most uncertain. There is no grace at all in any conditional salvation, because the grace of God is free, unconditional, never sold and never bought. "Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt." "And if by grace, then is it no more of works." All conditional salvation calls for works to obtain it, for something must be done. So grace is entirely excluded from the yea and nay doctrine of conditional salvations. The teachers of conditional salvation have not yet presumed to say the grace of God is conditional, and so all conditionalism is a denial of salvation by grace.

Conditional Baptists, however, seem to think that they take away the objectionable feature of Arminianism or conditional salvation, by confining it to time, and so they qualify this legal doctrine of salvation by works by inserting the word "time" between the two words, conditional salvation, and make it read, "Conditional time salvation"; that is to say, salvation in time is conditional. If so, then salvation in time is not by grace, nor of The Lord"
(David Bartley, 1905).

Elder F.A. Chick, editor of the Signs of the Times, a periodical advocating absolutism correctly charges it with being on par with Arminianism as well:

"So, it may be, that those brethren who use the term ‘time salvation’, so much, and make such a broad distinction between it, and what they call ‘eternal salvation’, may not hold such conclusions which we draw from the sentiment. Some things which have been said concerning it, have sounded to us like the Arminian idea of conditionalism..." (F.A. Chick, Signs of the Times, 1899)

Elder Silas Durand, in a letter J.H. Oliphant, took notice also of a new sound coming from those who were now advocating this doctrine:

"To me it is a new and strange thing to find Old Baptists claiming praise for works of obedience, and insisting that the favor of God is conditional, depending upon their will and choice, and therefore uncertain, and that when it comes to them it comes as a reward for their obedience. I have heard that kind of talk all my life from Arminians, but never before from Old Baptists" (Silas Durand, Letter to J.H.Oliphant, October 6, 1899).

Focusing on its actual origin in his series ”Hardshells and Predestination”, fellow contributor Stephen penned down exactly what happened when the Conditionalist faction divorced conversion from regeneration and turned into an optional supplement for God’s elect:

"The 'Conditionalist' faction took an Arminian approach to the experience of 'conversion' and called it by a new name, by the term 'time salvation,' or 'conditional time salvation'."(Stephen Garrett, Hardshells and Predestination I, 2011)

And lastly, I discovered an observation from an outside source who understands their history well:

"The emphasis of the old Primitives upon the Absolute Sovereignty of God was also most commendable. Unfortunately, most of the contemporary Primitives have wavered from the faith of their early representatives in this area. Most modern Primitives (an oxymoron par exellence!) are "conditionalists" and deny God's Absolute Predestination of all things. They are, in reality, much more Arminian than are most Sovereign Grace Baptist" (www.livingwatercc.org).

It is my hope that others would come to see that what these men state is exactly right. Changing the scope of a text from ‘eternity’ to ‘time’ does nothing to relieve it of its Arminian features. If it is assumed that any apparent conditions or necessities seen in scripture give countenance to salvation by works, making the blessing promised or judgment threatened one of a temporal nature does nothing to change this. It remains a ‘works’ system; only one which is applied to time. It is whether the requirement is obtained by free-will or provided by God which determines its Arminian or Calvinistic coloring.

The student of scripture who wants to give all glory to God should seek to establish the truth that salvation is always of the Lord, whether in time or eternity. It is a compromise with, not a denial of, Arminianism to place all passages in scripture which give hint of conditions under the umbrella of a “second” works-based salvation, for one is still guilty of teaching that very Arminianism he seeks to avoid! This is the sad trap which the Conditionalist faction of the Primitive Baptists find themselves. The answer to their dilemna lies in coming to the recognition that there are certain requirements for eternal salvation, and that each of them are provided by God who “hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3), including those things wrought through instrumentality. Until this is realized however, and it continues to be said that there is a salvation which the sinner must obtain for himself, all charges of Arminianism upon conditionalism are spot on.

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