Arminianism Subverts Grace [Charles Hodge]

The other night while searching the free ebooks on my ereader, I came across a small booklet titled “Arminianism and Grace,” purportedly written by Charles Hodge (Presbyterian minister and theologian). So far it has proven to be a helpful little booklet demonstrating how Arminianism subverts the grace of God. Here is a small selection from the booklet.

[Arminians claim that] God could .not justly have passed by all men, leaving them to perish in their sins. He was bound in justice to provide and offer salvation, and give the strength to receive it. But mark what follows. After God has done all this, they hold that notwithstanding all the influence he can exert on the sinner’s mind, he has power to resist it, — that even those who have been renewed by grace into the divine likeness, may undo the work of God in their hearts, in spite of all he can do to preserve them.

Thus, Dr. Fisk, in his tract on Predestination and Election, (p. 16,) says, “Man’s obedience or disobedience, if it has any just relation to rewards and punishments, must rest in its responsible character, upon the self-determining principle of the will. And if this view of the will be correct, there is an utter impossibility of an unconditional election: for the very act of God, imparting this self-determining principle to man, renders it impossible in the nature of things, for the Almighty himself to elect a moral agent unconditionally. This would imply irresistible grace, and that would destroy man’s accountability.” i. e. Man has a power of deciding his own will, independent of any cause without himself;” or he is not accountable.

He is, therefore, of course able to decide independent of God, or of grace.

The very act of God imparting this self-determining principle renders it impossible in the nature of things for the Almighty himself to elect him unconditionally,”— he can do so only upon the condition that man does not choose to resist all possible divine influences !

Now if all this be true— if man has any such power— if its existence and exercise are essential to his accountability, where is the room for grace in his salvation? He has a just claim, according to Wesley, to the provision and offer of salvation, and to the strength necessary to receive it. There is no grace, therefore, in bestowing these upon him. God could not justly do less. And having these, he has, in his “self-determining principle,” power to resist all the grace that God can bestow on him afterwards!

Nay, more, his “self-determining principle” which is said to be essential to free agency, forbids that there should be any influence whatever exerted upon him in his decision. If there is, how is it the act of his “self-determining principle?”

The very phrase, “a self-determining principle” decided by grace, i. e., by something independent of itself, is an absurdity as gross and palpable as it would be to speak of a self-moving machine propelled by something else.

In the face this mighty principle, there is neither room nor occasion for grace, in the sinner’s self-determination, to submit to God. Ho can do it himself, otherwise his “self-determining principle” cannot determine itself after all. And he must do it himself, otherwise his ” self-determining ” principle

is not self-determined, and his accountability is gone. It amounts to this, then, that he can resist all influences — he can keep God out of his heart, or he can, without any influence, magnanimously open the door, and permit the Almighty to enter.

Thus again does Arminianism subvert grace by making man able either to dispense with it altogether, or superior to its most potent influences.

Arminianism and Grace, Hodge (read & download the book for free here).

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