The Living Purgatory of Arminianism
Christ Jesus died. The agreement between the Reformed faith and Arminianism ends there. Arminianism also tries to distance itself from Roman Catholicism, but there are too many similarities to ignore. There are also far too many of those similarities to discuss here. There is one correlation we wish to highlight, however, that being, Arminianism’s living purgatory.
Purgatory is a Roman Catholic invention, designed to buffer the reality that it is appointed once for a man to die, and then comes the judgment (Heb 9:27). Instead, purgatory serves as a holding tank for those who did not do enough works to get into heaven, during their lives. Johann Tetzel famously bankrolled a large sum of money for the Vatican, using purgatory as the catalyst. People could help their loved ones get out of purgatory, for a sum of money given to Rome.
Arminians claim there is no decree of salvation for any one person. Rather, Christ died for all people, in a universal redemption. Still, not all people are saved (vs. Universalism). So, there is a deficiency in the atonement. All men have not been truly reconciled to God “in Christ.” If this were the case, Arminians would say all are saved. What do Arminians do to fix the problem they have created?
Arminians create a living purgatory, by claiming Christ died for all people, but not all people are actually saved. Following the errors of Socinus and Pelagius, the Arminians deny that original sin and Adam’s guilt are transferred to his offspring. In other words, Christ’s death neutralized original sin, for all people, so that no one is born as a child of wrath, nor with a sin nature (contradicting Eph 2:3). Man is innocent at his birth. This is why you never hear the idea of babies going to hell. It is an Arminian denial of the reach of original sin.
Arminians claim that man’s clean slate does not stay clean, because there is sin in the world, and men are apt to sin. The good news is that Christ died for everyone’s sins. The Arminian problem remains, in the failure of an actual atonement. To remedy this shortcoming in Christ’s salvific work, the Arminian claims that Jesus died, so the Father could be freed to deal with men, again, in a new covenant.
When the Father configured the new covenant, He was free to design it the way He wanted. So, according to the Arminians, He designed a conditional covenant of works. The easy, do-it-yourself condition of the new covenant is to follow Jesus’ example of faith. Jesus had faith in His Father, and every man must put his or her faith in Jesus Christ, to make the atonement applicable. Without man’s self-generated faith, a work of his own free will choice, he lives in the holding tank of possible salvation. He is one good decision away from being saved.
The living purgatory of Arminianism inspires the work of Arminian preachers. They are very busy trying to coax all men into that one good decision that would deliver them from the temporary state of reconciliation.
God has displayed His grace in the new covenant, not by actually atoning sinners with the blood of Christ, but by offering all men the possibility of saving themselves by their exercise of faith, a work of man’s decision-making prowess.
The whole of humanity is sitting in limbo, until they make their faith choice, or until they die. The wrath of God has been neutralized by Christ’s death for everyone, so it is not as if a foretaste of hell is visiting anyone. The idea of “the children of wrath” or “children of the devil” is just a theoretical concept, for those who do not work out their salvation for themselves, in the allotted time. It only becomes reality after they die.
Arminians, like Roman Catholics, are working hard to liberate the souls of those in their respective purgatories. The Arminian prays for his neighbors, who have left innocence, and who have also reached the invented, “age of accountability (nobody seems to know the actual age one is accountable to God).” He is praying his neighbors will meet the condition of the covenant, that is, to believe on the Lord Jesus and be saved.
The faith of the Reformers, and their followers, rejects the entire system of man-centered salvation. The truth of salvation does not leave anyone in limbo. God actually saves the people He intended to save (Titus 3:5).
In His predestined election (Eph 1:4, 5), God chose a particular people for His own possession (Rom 11:5; 1 Pet 2:9). He calls them by name (Jn 10:3), which means He knows their definite number (Rev 13:8; 17:8). These were chosen “in Christ” before creation, in eternity past, according to the eternal counsel and purpose of God (Eph 3:11).
Knowing the decree for Adam’s fall into sin, and the passing of original sin to all people, God sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to save His people from their sins (Jn 3:16; Mt 1:21). He bore the sins of His elect, in His body, on the tree (1 Pet 2:24). These people from the whole world (1 Jn 2:2; Rev 5:9), redeemed by the blood of Christ (Eph 1:7), have actually been reconciled to God the Father (Rom 5:10; 2 Cor 5:18–20). The atonement is 100% successful, and it is applied to the elect, redeemed soul by the Holy Spirit (Rom 5:5; 8:9, 11; 1 Pet 1:3).
The Arminian’s living purgatory is just another error, of their system of man-centered salvation. The truth is that God is calling out to His own, with the preached Gospel, and effectually gathering His elect into His church (1 Cor 12:13), where all the spiritual blessings merited by Christ on the Cross, are ours in Him (Eph 1:3). There is no uncertainty in the work of our triune God, hence, no limbo, in the decreed plan and purpose of saving His chosen people and building His church.
Spokane Valley, Washington
December 11, 2021