I stumbled on a paper from your journal that left me with a big question. I don’t know when it was written, but the author was Bob Wilkin. The title of the paper is, “Justification by Faith Alone is an Essential Part of the Gospel.”
Near the middle of the article, page 5 of the PDF, he states,
“As Steve himself illustrated with his comments about his evangelistic
preaching at the overseas orphanage, a person can boldly preach that Jesus died and rose again and yet not evangelize clearly enough if he fails to preach justification by faith alone. Isn’t that what the Mormons do? The Jehovah’s Witnesses? Roman Catholics? Arminian Protestants? Lordship Salvationists?” (emphasis mine)
Am I led to believe that if I am an Arminian (more correctly Wesleyan Arminian) that I would not believe the material principle of the Reformation— “Justification by faith alone” would not be prima facie to the gospel of Jesus Christ? When I come before the Throne, there is only one thing I bring to commend me to God. My great need. This great principle is what springs forth from the substitutionary atonement of the cross and expressed in the first 10-11 verses of Romans 5. It is the Greater Sola of the Reformation if only one would be chosen. So am I being presumptuous as an Arminian?
Thank you so much for your question. There are two reasons why Arminians would be included in that list.
First, Arminians teach you can lose your salvation. How is that possible? They teach you must have good works to keep your salvation, or you must avoid big sins so as not to forfeit it. Either way, works become part of the condition of salvation. In that case, salvation is not by faith alone, apart from works.
Second, Arminians generally teach that doing good works is part of the definition of saving faith. They mistakenly take this from James 2. They will teach that the difference between faith and saving faith lies not in the object believed (e.g., a false gospel vs a true gospel), but in how it is believed. If someone’s faith lacks good works, it is considered “dead” and not “saving.” But if doing good works is part of the definition of saving faith itself, then salvation is not by faith alone, apart from works.
We realize there are many different schools of thought within Arminianism. We believe most Arminians hold to both positions above. But if they held to either position, they would be denying sola fide. So, no, we do not believe that Arminianism (as a system) holds to the doctrine of justification by faith alone, apart from works. Many Arminian preachers say they do, and mean it, but that claim is implicitly denied by their system.
In the article you quote, Bob contrasted Arminianism with Lordship Salvation. But he should have said that Arminianism is a variety of Lordship Salvation.
~Ken and Shawn