Myth #9 from Roger Olson’s Arminian Theology is appropriate for me today: I’m at Westminster Theological Seminary, one of America’s foremost bastions of reformed theology. The myth is this: that Arminians deny justification by faith alone through faith alone. At issue: Is Arminianism genuinely reformational or is it a retreat toward the Catholicism out of which the reformers broke?
Olson’s response is a robust denial: Arminians don’t deny justification by grace alone and through faith alone. And a robust affirmation: Arminianism is a Reformation movement.
Olson quotes some who contend that Arminians teach that what is imputed for righteousness is not Christ’s righteousness but the merit of faith. Imputation, rather than being solely a forensic declaration, it is argued by some Calvinists, is understood by Arminians to involve a moral change.
Olson argues that Arminians have always been uncomfortable with a declaration-only righteousness; Luther, Olson, argues sees two kinds of righteousness: alien and transforming. Arminians stand with Luther.
It is true that Arminians — I add along with Genesis 15:6 — have spoken of a faith imputed for righteousness, but they have also always taught that grace can’t be merited or earned and that it is received solely by faith. Olson suggests that what is at stake is a monergistic theory of justification.
Arminius himself: several have concluded that Arminius was thoroughly Reformation on justification (APF Sell, A Skevington Wood, H Slaatte, C Bangs). Arminius said he could sign off on what Calvin says in Book 3 of Institutes on justification. And faith, Arminius stated, is the work of the Holy Spirit, not the effort of a human being. It is instrumental, not material/efficient cause. Arminius distinguished justification from sanctification.
Oden says that Wesley was Calvinistic in his understanding of justification.
The secret is that consistent Arminians have always believed in justificaiton as imputed righteousness (not imparted).