Strong Patristic Agreement With the Standard Arminian Approach to Rom. 7:14-25

Read the article at The Arminian magazine on-line:

The Patristic Interpretation Of Rom. 7:14-25 Part 1, The Early Christian Witness to the Arminian Interpretation

Note:  While this represents the typical Arminian interpretation of Rom. 7 going back to Arminius, not all Arminians subscribe to this basic interpretation.  Robert Picirilli, for example, is one Arminian exception and takes a different approach to the passage.

Go to Part 2

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11 Responses

  1. Would this then lead to Christian perfectionism? If I’m not mistaken the early Methodist’s did believe that one can achieve perfection in this life.

  2. Would this then lead to Christian perfectionism?

    Not necessarily, though one might try to construe it that way.

    If I’m not mistaken the early Methodist’s did believe that one can achieve perfection in this life.

    They held to “entire sanctification”. But even their accounting of entire sanctification was not the same as what we would normally term “prefectionism”.

  3. I guess I’m having a hard time understanding, big surprise I know, but if the argument is that a Christian is free from sin and has it in his power to not sin then would that not open the door for “perfectionsim”?

    I always thought that as Christians while we are still in this old body of flesh that sin would be present in our lives. Yet reading the article that may not necessarily be true or the right way to look at it.

    I know that it troubled John Wesely deeply that some of his followers believed that they had attained perfection and he wrote about it in his journal.

    Tell me is there another article that you could point me to that would delve a bit deeper into what the ramifications of holding to such a view would entail?

    I know that you said that it could be construed that way, “perfectionism”, but what other ways could it be contrued as? If you could point me to a place or source I would much appreciate it.

  4. Looking at my first paragraph, please do not misconstrue this as me wanting to discuss LFW. I worded that very poorly about “in his power”. hopefully the rest of the comment makes it clear what I was trying to say and ask.

  5. Mitch,

    John Wesley was an avid reader and fan of Saint Macarius the Egyptian……who also taught a form of entire sanctification.

    Christ is Risen!

  6. Jnorm888,

    Thanks for the info, I remember reading about “perfectionism” or entire sanctification a long time ago, I’ve probably forgotten much:)

    Reading the article and thinking only “surfacely”, may not be a word, it is hard to see how one would not come to such a view. Meaning believing in entire sanctification, that does not mean it is wrong if that is what the bible teaches then one must conform their beliefs to it, but right now I struggle to accept such a view.

    If you know of other views that would arise from such a view I would appreciate pointing me to them so that I could read more on it. I will be out the rest of the day, but will check back tomorrow perhaps. Anything that you could point me to would be appreciated.

    God bless

  7. Is it possible to know who was the first to popularize the Calvinistic approach to Romans 7 in the fourth century? I did not want to assume it was Augustine.

  8. Mitch,

    I really do not have time to get into a lengthy discussion. For me the issue is control and freedom, especially as we follow the flow of the argument into Rom. 8. Only through faith in Christ can one please God, since only by faith and in the context of right relationship with God can one obey the law in a way that God is fully pleased with (8:1-4). This is also only possible through the power of the indwelling Spirit which is given to those who come to be in Christ through faith (8:11-14). Paul is contrasting a life without the Spirit (in chapter 7) with a life empowered by the Spirit in chapter 8. A life empowered by the Spirit can overcome sin and obey the law in a way that is pleasing to God. A life devoid of that power cannot. I do not see how one can deny this in reading Rom. 7 through to the end of Rom. 8.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  9. Is it possible to know who was the first to popularize the Calvinistic approach to Romans 7 in the fourth century? I did not want to assume it was Augustine.

    I hope the follow-up articles will get into this some (This is only Part 1). I think this article touches on it just briefly.

  10. Mitch,

    At the moment I really don’t know. What you could do…..that’s if you have time, is see how Christians understood Romans chapter 7 throughout the centuries.

    I think that would be the best way to find out what views may lead to what…….in regards to this issue. To be honest, I’m actually looking forward to part 2 of this series.

    Christ is Risen!

  11. From what I understand of scripture many were going astray and twisting scripture right out of the starting gate. So even if there were some teaching something within Paul’s life time it does not mean they were teaching truth. Paul even spoke of how he was “slanderously reported” to be teaching, Let us do evil that good may come. So with that being said, It doesn’t surprise me that Romans 7 would so soon be taught to be a saved man.

    Romans 7 is indeed a lost man! Not because I say so, but because Paul makes it very clear that it is.

    Paul gives a very interesting analogy in Romans 7:1-6 and if this were the only place he does this it would be enough to make it crystal clear Romans 7 is a lost man. As it is He does this a number of times, but I’ll just show how this one is laid out.

    Romans 7:3 is about Romans 5.
    Romans 7:4 is about Romans 6.
    Romans 7:5 is about Romans 7.
    Romans 7:6 is about Romans 8.

    As you will notice this is all straight down the line, in order, and not skipping around. This is also how Paul lays out Romans.
    As you read these verses then go back to the chapter they go with, you will see they are summations of those chapters.

    7:3 is about chapter 5.
    The second husband is Christ and this is without question. It is the first husband that many have trouble with. Some think the first husband is the law and it is the law that is the problem here. It is true it is the law that condemns us, but that is only because we broke the law. Law is not the husband as it is not what a person marries, but it only binds two people in marriage. But when one of the two dies it terminates the marriage not law. The first husband is Adam. Christ becomes our atonement in chapter 5. Before we are placed in Christ and He becomes our covering, we have to understand Adam was our covering first.
    Also the first husband is the flesh. And the first husband is our old man.
    Adam is the head of the human race, so Adam is our head before we are saved. We are justified by being placed in Christ. How does this happen? Crucifixion! We are crucified with Christ, so now our ties are terminated with Adam, the flesh, our old man. This is the theme of the gospel, our becoming one with Christ as is a man to his wife.
    It was the flesh that we inherited from Adam and it’s inability to overcome our lusts that kept us from being able to keep the law. I may be getting ahead of myself here, but Paul tells us all these things as we go.

    7:4 is about chapter 6. Just as chapter 6 tells us of our co-crucifixion with Christ and not continuing in sin and that we are to be servants to righteousness unto holiness, so does 7:4 sum all this up in one verse. This is in the present tense (also are become).

    7:5 is about chapter 7. Just as the man in chapter 7 walked in sin and we all did in times past, this verse sums it up. we also see this verse is in the past tense (when we were). Many have trouble with chapter 7 because it switches from past tense to present tense in 7:14, but the present tense is historical present tense, therefore being a form of past tense. It can also be called a flash back.

    7:6 is about chapter 8. You will notice it switches back to the present tense and then goes into reminding us we have been delivered from the law by that being dead that held us. What was it that held us back and kept us from doing those things we wanted to do? The flesh. Romans 8:3 tells us the law was weak through the flesh. But now we are not in the flesh if we belong to Christ.
    Now that we are no longer in the flesh we are free to serve in newness of spirit.

    There is a lot more to this, but this is enough to get some idea of where Paul was going with his analogy and his argument throughout.

    In Christ,
    Dell

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