The Arminian Default–Unless You Say No

Arminians want to say—you are accepted, accept your acceptance, but what if you don’t, well that’s on you (if we must say it out loud for some stubborn people) but in any case, even if we say that the no is on you, we must still be careful to not say that the “yes is on you” because that would shed too much light on the con-game being played by Arminians.

It’s God yes, not your yes, but if you say no, well that’s you. But if you don’t say no, that means you say yes, but that yes is not yours, your yes is God’s doing in you. So it was yes, by default, you were born justified, but then you lost it by your no. But of course, only in one sense, you never lost it, because God will still be saying yes to you, even as you perish in the second death. As CS Lewis told us, hell is only locked by you on the inside.

Even infralapsarian Calvinists start at the other end. By default, we all begin as condemned sinners, and then election saves some. I myself think that infralapsarian Reformed theologians flatten out Romans 9 so as to make it seem reasonable and non-objectionable, but even they do read the default as we all being lost sinners.

But the Arminian default seems to run the other way–God is saying yes to everybody, and you will be justified, unless you say no. Your no will stop God from getting what God’s wanted but your no will be an excuse (theodicy) to explain why it’s still not God’s fault because at least you all started with a “common” justification. You had your “chance”.

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7 Comments on “The Arminian Default–Unless You Say No”

  1. markmcculley Says:

    When Arminians get done preaching, it seems that the hearers ought to make one of two conclusions.

    Possible conclusion One, God is an universalist. We all are born objectively justified (except for the one sin of not believing the gospel), and no matter what, God loves us, and there is no caveat attached, and this means none of us will ever be condemned. We have it if we want it, and if we don’t want to believe the gospel now, surely we will want to believe the gospel then, and so we will have it.

    Possible conclusion Two, God is not ever going to save everybody, even though Jesus died for everybody, and this means that there have to be other factors but we have to be cautious about when and how we talk about these other factors, and we must never ever say that the whole thing depends on God getting us (by grace) to say yes, because we don’t want to say that, because we want to say it all depends on Jesus.


    Jacobus Andreae, Acta Colloquij Montisbellogartensis, 1613, 447

    “Those assigned to eternal destruction are not damned because because they sinned. They are damned for this reason, because they refused to embrace Jesus Christ with true faith, who died no less for their sins than for the sins of Peter, Paul and all the saints.

    Beza—p448–”To me what you say is plainly new and previously unheard–that men are not damned because they have sinned….

    Garry J Williams, p 513—The notion that the lost will be punished for the sin of unbelief and not for sin in general allows Lutherans to hold that Jesus died for every general sin of every individual, and yet not all must be saved, because unbelievers may still be justly condemned for their unbelief since Christ did not die for it. This reply limits the sins for which Christ died..

    The Lutherans have created a difficulty with biblical texts referring to the sins for which Christ died. Every affirmation that sins have been borne by Christ must now be understood to contain a tacit restriction—except the sin of unbelief….If a sinner believes and becomes a Christian at age forty, and the Lutherans teach that Christ did not die for the sin of unbelief, this means that Christ did not die for this man’s sin of unbelief committed over forty years.

    Psalm 130: 3 If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
    O Lord, who could stand?

    II Corinthians 5: 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. 11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others.

    mark: Most people have not heard the true gospel. Most people do not believe the true gospel because most people have not heard the true gospel.


    Hebrews 2: 9 But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. 10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11 For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source.That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers,12 saying,

    “I will tell of your name to my brothers;
    in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.”
    13 And again,
    “I will put my trust in him.”
    And again,
    “Behold, I and the children God has given me.”
    14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he would destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. 16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he would become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

    1. “man” is not in the original in verse 9

    2. everyone is specified: the sons whom God will lead to glory

    those sanctified

    those whom Christ calls brothers in the ecclesia

    3. NOT for angels, for Abraham’s seed

    4. NOT FOR all children of Abraham, but only for the children of Abraham elected to salvation

    5. those for whom He made propitiation, took away wrath of God by satisfying justice for their sins


    Alec Motyer, p 251, From Heaven He Came—Isaiah’s “Behold, my servant shall succeed” matches the great cry, “It is finished (John 19:30) and forces us to ask what “finished” means in John and what “succeed” means in Isaiah. On any “open-ended” view of the atonement–that is, that the work of Christ only made salvation possible rather than actually secured salvation–“finished” only means “started” and “succeed” only means “maybe, at some future date, and contingent on the contributions of others”.

  5. markmcculley Says:

    Amyraut—“Sin seems to have changed not only the whole face of the universe, but even the entire design of the first creation, and if one may speak this way, seems to have induced to adopt new councels”

    and thus God becomes the God who declares not the end from the beginning but the end from the fall

    the fall is conditioned on the sinner, and the creation is either plan a or no plan at all

    did God make the world, and then decide (after man decided) what to do with the world

    why must we deny that death is God’s work also?

    why must we deny that the fall of Adam is God’s work also?

    why must we keep talking about what Adam “could have done” or “might have done”?

    was God’s plan a to be glorified in a church of human Adams who never sinned? (Ephesians 3:20)

  6. markmcculley Says:

    Revelation 20: 13 Then the sea gave up its dead, and Death and Hades gave up their dead; all (the non-elect) were judged according to their works. 14 Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And anyone not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire. . ………….. the elect will all have been justified by then, and will not enter into the judgment, John 5:24

    Hades is thrown into the lake of fire

    The lake of fire is the second death
    The lake of fire is Gehenna

    therefore, Hades is thrown into Gehenna

    Hades and Gehenna are not the same place

    Gehenna is not a new name for Hades

  7. markmcculley Says:

    Sproul—The importance of viewing the decree of reprobation in light of the fall is seen in the on-going discussions between Reformed theologians concerning infra-and supra-lapsarianism. Both viewpoints include the fall in God’s decree. Both view the decree of preterition in terms of divine permission.

    RC Sproul–The distortion of double predestination looks like this: There is a symmetry that exists between election and reprobation. God works in the same way and same manner with respect to the elect and to the reprobate. That is to say, from all eternity God decreed some to election and by divine initiative works faith in their hearts and brings them actively to salvation. By the same token, from all eternity God decrees some to sin and damnation (destinare ad peccatum) and actively intervenes to work sin in their lives, bringing them to damnation by divine initiative. In the case of the elect, regeneration is the monergistic work of God. In the case of the reprobate, sin and degeneration are the monergistic work of God. Stated another way, we can establish a parallelism of foreordination and predestination by means of a positive symmetry. We can call this a positive-positive view of predestination. This is, God positively and actively intervenes in the lives of the elect to bring them to salvation. In the same way God positively and actively intervenes in the life of the reprobate to bring him to sin.This distortion of positive-positive predestination clearly makes God the author of sin who punishes a person for doing what God monergistically and irresistibly coerces man to do. Such a view is indeed a monstrous assault on the integrity of God. This is not the Reformed view of predestination, but a gross and inexcusable caricature of the doctrine. Such a view may be identified with what is often loosely described as hyper-Calvinism and involves a radical form of supralapsarianism. Such a view of predestination has been virtually universally and monolithically rejected by Reformed thinkers.

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