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The beginning of Article 17 (XVII) of the Articles of Religion seems to me to clearly teach Calvinistic predestination:

Predestination to Life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby (before the foundations of the world were laid) he hath constantly decreed by his counsel secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation, as vessels made to honour.

So I found it rather interesting that William Beveridge mentions that some Arminians have interpreted this article differently:

One Article (the 17th Article) has sometimes been wrested into an Arminian interpretation, but the attempt cannot be looked upon as other than a failure. (Short History, 106)

My reading inclines me to agree with Beveridge's analysis, but before passing too firm a judgment, I'd like to understand how Arminians interpret this article to favor their viewpoint. I'm not interested in the approach of those who simply reject the article or significant portions of it.

Among those Arminians who hold to the Articles, how do they defend Article 17?

  • My understanding of the Arminian position is that "He predestinated whom He foreknew" means He foresaw who would eventually come to Christ. Article 17 doesn't conflict with that, although the "secret counsel" challenges it a little, and one would think the article would clarify that predestination was based on foreseeing, if the writers of it believed that to be true. – Bit Chaser Mar 1 '17 at 4:50
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We are elected “in Christ”, as both the article and Ephesians 1 affirm. In the OT, Israel were the elect people of God with God choosing them to show his love to the rest of the world and to be an example of a Godly society. This did not guarantee the salvation of every Israelite. If a non-Jew wanted to be part of the elect people of God, s/he could by their own free choice decide to become a proselyte, whereby all the blessings of election are conferred.

Being elected 'in Christ' means that God has predestined the members of Christ's body to show forth his love to the world and to be an example of a Godly society. He also chooses that these people will have life eternal. By declaring and living in allegiance to Christ one is made part of this 'new Israel', and thereby one gains both the benefits of salvation (as pre-destined by God that we should), and also the task of witnessing to God's glory by word and action, as God also has chosen for us.

I am fairly certain that the above free-will view was not what the author(s) of Article 17 intended, but they do seem to have left the back door open to those who do not believe that everything is predetermined and that we are mere puppets in God's play. I will gladly walk in through that back door and give myself to the task of evangelism (a task which is undermined by such Augustinianism and Calvinism).

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