An Arminian Prayer?

by Paul Franco on October 22, 2009

Charles H. Spurgeon observes that you have heard a great many Arminian sermons, I dare say, but you never heard an Arminian prayer–for the saints in prayer appear as one in word, and deed, and mind. An Arminian on his knees would pray desperately like a Calvinist. He cannot pray about free will; there is no room for it. Fancy him praying, “Lord, I thank thee that I am not like these poor presumptuous Calvinists. Lord, I was born with a glorious free will; I was born with a power by which I can turn to thee of myself; I have improved my grace. If everybody had done the same with their grace that I have, they might all have been saved. Lord, I know thou dost not make us willing if we are not willing ourselves…It was not thy grace that made us to differ…I made use of what was given me, and others did not—that is the difference between me and them.” That is a prayer for the devil, for nobody else would offer such a prayer as that.

This sermon is typical of other occasions when Spurgeon had occasion to mention free will. The point throughout is that the will is not an independent entity, but a manifestation of the whole person, of the fallen character.

The question is not about the reality of the choices, but about whether they are caused or not. The dividing question between Arminians and Calvinists is about what causes the will to act, not whether the will exists, which both affirm. Jesus answers this clearly enough in His doctrine of “drawing” (Jn6) and His description of a category He calls His “Sheep” (Jn 10). May the Holy Spirit open up our understanding to this marvelous truth.

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