Traditionalists and Arminians?

Today I saw a book review of Tom Ascol’s book Whomever He Wills. The reviewer said this,

“Much of that [the book’s agressive and theologically dense nature] can be explained by the book’s immediate context, a full-on, all-out attack upon Calvinism by a group of Southern Baptist Arminian theologians in a recent book with a similar title, Whosoever Will.”

Notice: the reviewer refers to the non-Calvinists as Arminians. I’m pretty sure those non-Calvinists would dispute that and call themselves Traditionalists. But recently in a comment stream on another blog I made the following comment (to the administrator here Ken):

“By the way, at, the preface to the Canons of Dordt says,’…Arminians taught election based on foreseen faith, universal atonement, partial depravity, resistible grace, and the possibility of a lapse from grace.'”

If this accurate, it’s one of the reasons I cannot see much difference in Trads and Arminianism. That’s not meant to be a perjorative, just an observation.

Here’s my question for Calvinists or self-described Traditionalists: Given the description from of Arminian theology, how are so-called Traditionalists NOT Arminian? I know Trads do not believe that a true believer can “lapse from grace.” But the other four points,  “foreseen faith, universal atonement, partial depravity, resistible grace,” do seem to fit Traditionalist theology. If not, why not?

Les Prouty, 2013


About Les

Executive Director for the Haiti Orphan Project.
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19 Responses to Traditionalists and Arminians?

  1. Les says:


    I’m afraid I’m not following you on this.


  2. parsonsmike says:

    I understand you.
    Every Christian I know was ‘wetted’ at their baptism by the Spirit.

  3. parsonsmike says:

    To be clear: They were wetted when the Spirit baptized them.

  4. parsonsmike says:

    SBC Trads are OSAS. Arminians are not.

  5. Les says:


    I’m aware that Trads are OSAS. I even acknowledged that, ” I know Trads do not believe that a true believer can “lapse from grace.”

    So is it fair to still refer to them as Arminians if they hold to 4 of 5 points that make up Arminianism? Or would “Arminianistic” be better?

  6. parsonsmike says:

    Since they dislike the term and disavow it, calling them that only brings more disunity. Our goal is to represent Jesus and walk in His ways. And the strong must look out for the weak. I suggest you just call them Trads.

  7. Jason Mahill says:

    I think where some of us Southern Baptist “traditionalists” part ways with Arminian is we believe in the doctrine of eternal security and a slightly modified total depravity.

    The non-Calvinist position I take on eternal security is based on 2 points.
    1. Ephesians 1:13-14 is just one of several scriptures that states that the Holy Spirit seals the believer. (yes, I know the whole first part of Eph 1 talks about predestination and calling)
    2. Since the N.T. repeatedly states a person is saved by and through faith and cannot be saved by works… it is not possible to lose your salvation through neglect or sinfulness. On this point, the majority Arminian position is that a person loses their salvation based on a lack of works, not a lack of faith.

    On total depravity, the traditionalist position I take is that human beings were created and are still capable of good works and following God’s law as illustrated in Romans 2. But, as illustrated in Romans 3, all human beings fail because all have sinned due to an inherent sin nature.

    I think the problem with both the Arminian and Calvinist position is they both try reconcile things in scripture that seem contradictory. However, most Arminians I have spoken with move with the error of ignoring scripture that speaks to election and predestination. Also, it seems that most who believe a person can lose their salvation, lose it because of a lack of good works.

    Where some of us part ways with the current Calvinist/reformed teachers is the attempt to make sense of the passages on predestination and God’s sovereignty with passages that make it clear that without faith, there is no salvation.

    Please keep in mind though that us self-identified “traditionists” probably only agree on 2 things…
    1. Neither the Calvinist or the Arminian point of view are sufficient in explaining the difficulties we find in scripture.
    2. God has given us the abilities and capacity to objectively study scripture… but there are things in scripture that seem contradictory to our western cultural ways of thinking.

  8. Les says:


    Actually I do call them Trads. I don’t call them Arminians. My post just attempts to explore really where they differ from Arminianism. So far I can only see one place. But I agree. I won’t call them Arminians for the reason you stated.

  9. Les says:


    Thanks for your reply. Your comments help me understand better.

  10. Ken Hamrick says:

    I suggest we call them Libertarians, since that more accurately attributes to them the most significant difference between them and the rest of the Southern Baptists. But you are right, Les, in that they are indeed–theologically speaking–slightly modified Arminians. However, nowadays theological labels are not so much about theology as about image and emotion. It reminds me of prescription drugs. Why is ibuprofen labeled “Motrin?” The former is a factual label, while the latter is an image label.

  11. Jason Mahill says:

    Some of us “traditionalists” are really only slightly modified Calvinists… but from my limited perspective, “traditionalists” are the majority of Southern Baptists. It’s a position that recognises that scripture teaches that God calls/predestines/elects all who are saved, but at the same time the New Testament also teaches a person is saved by and through faith in Jesus Christ.

    I think where most of us are is that we think Calvinism and Armininism are both in error in their explanations of this… with Arminianism being the one in greater error.

    I’ve been told that what I teach is called “Molinism,” but since I have only recently heard of this term, I can’t confirm that “molinism” or it’s particular conclusions is the position of the majority of SB pastors I have known over the years. I was given a book written by Kenneth Keathly to check this out… if no one has done it yet, I can read it and post a book review on it.

  12. Jason Mahill says:

    Also, just to clarify, I had come to the conclusion that Arminianism is in greater error because of its particulars on universal atonement, partial depravity, and the possibility of losing one’s salvation.

  13. parsonsmike says:

    Maturation is a process.
    Perfection does not happen with old flesh.
    All believers are wet.

  14. Peripateopneuma has been banned. His comment, to the effect that there is “good reason” not to fellowship with most Southern Baptist congregations, was not in keeping with the purpose of this Southern Baptist forum.

    SBC Open Forum Admin

  15. Rick Patrick says:

    Speaking generally here, and from a taxonomical perspective, part of the confusion concerning our labels for Calvinism, Arminianism, Traditionalism and other views stems from the fact that we apply only ONE term to several distinct views. Let’s stop doing that. When a Calvinist can embrace a point total anywhere from Five to Four to Three to Two and a Half, meaningful discussion is hindered. Someone engages one part of the debate only to be told, “Well, that’s not what I believe–it’s not a monolithic system.”

    Indeed, it’s not. People slip from one view to another but call it the very same thing that they were before. Again, let’s stop doing that. Come up with more names and start using them. You simply cannot call a Traditionalist an Arminian when we disagree so strongly about such a huge matter as apostasy. Let’s be precise and stop this business of saying others “tend” toward an Arminian view or “sound” as if they have a semi-Pelagian understanding.

    The same thing happens with Four Pointers and Five Pointers. When Calvinists want to prove they have a large base of support, they include the Four Pointers. When they are trying to convince others that they have not taken over a conference platform or a writing panel but remain in the minority, they only count the Five Pointers. While it will certainly not solve our entire problem, taking the spectrum and identifying more precisely our theological labels will contribute to better understanding. We can start with the term Traditionalists–which can be clearly separated from Calvinists, Arminians and Semi-Pelagians.

  16. Ken Hamrick says:

    Interesting points, Rick. Would you agree with me that the most pivotal difference between “Calvinists” and “Traditionalists” is determinism v. libertarianism? And if so, then would it not cut through all the extraneous labeling to address the real concerns by using the labels, “Determinists,” and, “Libertarians?”

    Thank you for commenting!

  17. parsonsmike says:

    Some may declare themselves in the middle and embrace both determinism and libertarian free will. There are nuances of hardness and softness on both ‘poles’. Same point as Rick is making on C’s and T’s and A’s. I have found no one who agrees with me 100% on Biblical interp [except the Holy Spirit {lol!}]. All kidding aside, I am still learning about God so how can I be 100% correct in all my views of Him? And who isn’t in the same boat as I?
    The key to growth is dialogue along with humility and prayer. And let us not forget obedience! We will not get smart in the ways of God if we are not seeking to walk in the Spirit.
    The difference with everybody is one’s view of God. As that differs, doctrine does as well. But theses differences are usually nuances that should not affect our fellowship together. I am pretty sure I could worship God right along with Rick’s parishioners both as we sing His praises and listen to His servant preach.
    For an example, look at your doctrine. You declare that if a man be willing even without the influence of God, he could and would be saved [[a libertarian idea]]. Yet you declare that God determines all things.
    The truth is that if God was understandable completely by us humans, he wouldn’t be worthy of being our God. But certainly He has revealed some of Himself to us. Thus we debate what those things mean. We set up parameters to show what inclusive thought is and thus what excludes those who radically differ. And depending what we call that umbrella, we limit or include only believer baptism in the SBC but might include paedo-baptist under a wider orthodox umbrella we call Christian.

  18. Why not call them 4 point Arminians? of 4 point Semi-Pelagians? “Synergists” would be another good term. “Biblicist” or “Trad” is clearly not accurate.

  19. Rick,

    I think J.I. Packer is right in observing that there is only one point to Calvinism. That point is that God saves sinners. It is totally his work from first to last. Nothing else is Calvinism. I am a one point Calvinist.

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