Question: "What is Reformed Arminianism?"
Answer: The differences between Arminian theology and Reformed theology are well-known and oft-discussed. One “middle ground” system of doctrine that’s been proposed is Amyraldism, also called four-point Calvinism. Another compromise between Arminianism and Calvinism is Reformed Arminianism.
Reformed Arminianism seems like a contradiction in terms, given the historic dispute between Reformed theology and Arminianism. The “contradiction” is actually a compromise that traces its roots to the General Baptist movement of the seventeenth century in England. More recently, Reformed Arminianism has been promoted by the Free Will Baptists. Reformed Arminianism modifies current forms of Wesleyanism to take an approach that some consider to be closer to what Jacobus Arminius actually taught.
Reformed Arminians disagree with the teaching of perfectionism or entire sanctification found in some Arminian circles. In addition, Reformed Arminianism accepts the Reformed teachings of original sin and total depravity, believing it is only the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit that can overcome human depravity. At the same time, Reformed Arminianism retains the Arminian view of predestination (God elected those He knew would believe) and the freedom of the will (one is able to resist the grace of God needed to save him).
Akin to Amyraldism, Reformed Arminianism teaches an unlimited atonement, as opposed to Calvinism’s limited atonement. But Reformed Arminianism agrees with Calvinism that Christ’s atonement was a penal satisfaction that satisfied God’s requirement for justice and that Christ’s righteousness is imputed to the believer in justification.
Reformed Arminianism also holds to the perseverance of the saints through faith alone—another tenet of Calvinism—with a caveat. Reformed Arminians believe that Christians can lose their salvation, but only by renouncing their faith. Reformed Arminians reject the idea, found in traditional Wesleyanism, that falling into sin will cause one to fall from grace until repentance restores the sinner back to a state of grace. In other words, according to Reformed Arminianism, a believer cannot fall out of salvation, but he can willingly forfeit it, and once he apostatizes, he is lost forever.
Reformed Arminianism could be seen as “moderate Arminianism,” just as Amyraldism could be seen as “moderate Calvinism.” Those who disagree with some but not all of the teachings of Arminianism, and those seeking a compromise between Calvinism and Arminianism, may find Reformed Arminianism an agreeable option.