“The Grand Falsehood of Pelagius”: An Arminian, Anti-Pelagian Account of Anthropology

Co-authored with Christopher Talbot

Arminian anthropology has long been characterized as necessarily Pelagian or semi-Pelagian. Such charges against Arminians can be found in the writings of varied figures from John Owen to R.C. Sproul, and more recently, J. V. Fesko. Some who identify as Arminians undoubtedly hold semi-Pelagian views of original sin and depravity. However, the Arminian tradition descending from Arminius himself boasts a rich, anti-Pelagian account of theological anthropology. This tradition, sometimes referred to as “Reformed Arminianism,” is represented by the seventeenth-century English General Baptists Thomas Monck and Thomas Grantham, and modern Free Will Baptists such as Robert Picirilli, F. Leroy Forlines, and J. Matthew Pinson. These representative theologians hold to a Reformed understanding of original sin as well as man’s total depravity and natural inability to respond positively to God in salvation. Like Arminius, who decried the “grand falsehood of Pelagius,” these Arminian theologians have argued for a more Reformed, anti-Pelagian view of man. By rejecting the semi-Pelagian anthropology of some Arminians, and challenging common Calvinist caricatures of Arminianism as necessarily semi-Pelagian, this paper will present an account of theological anthropology that is both Arminian and anti-Pelagian.

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