What Calvinists do here is engage in equivocation, in which they equate “evangelicals” with Calvinists, so as to force the conclusion that Arminians cannot be evangelicals, no more than Arminians can be Calvinists.
Calvinist, Michael Horton, asks: “Is it possible to be an ‘evangelical Arminian’? In this article I attempt to defend a negative answer to that important question.” (Evangelical Arminians: Option or Oxymoron?, emphasis mine)
And what is the historical meaning of the term? Calvinism, of course. However, the burden of proof is on Calvinists to show that term “evangelical” has historically, uniquely identified only Calvinists.
Horton explains: “One simply could not deny total depravity, unconditional election, justification by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone, and continue to call himself or herself an evangelical.” (Evangelical Arminians: Option or Oxymoron?, emphasis mine)
Calvinists are big into marketing. I wouldn’t be a surprised if Calvinists also tried to claim the term “Orthodox” for themselves. However, if they did, the burden of proof would still be on them, as to how it would be an exclusive designation for their own theology.
Horton writes: “From where I sit, the main problem is this: we have gone back to using ‘evangelical’ as an adjective. As its medieval use was ambiguous, referring more to a general attitude of humility, zeal, and simple Christ-likeness, so too the contemporary use falls most often into that category. An evangelical is someone who ‘loves Jesus,’ who ‘wins souls,’ and who has a ‘sweet spirit.’” (Evangelical Arminians: Option or Oxymoron?, emphasis mine)
And that’s “the main problem”? How are any of these things a problem at all? Why shouldn’t this be the measure of an “evangelical”?
Horton writes: “Nevertheless, if we are going to still use ‘evangelical’ as a noun to define a body of Christians holding to a certain set of convictions, it is high time we got clear on these matters. An evangelical cannot be an Arminian any more than an evangelical can be a Roman Catholic.” (Evangelical Arminians: Option or Oxymoron?, emphasis mine) Horton writes: “In conclusion, the evangelical movement is faced with a difficult decision: either to reclaim the meaning of ‘evangelical,’ or to shed its confinement.” (Evangelical Arminians: Option or Oxymoron?, emphasis mine)
First of all, Calvinists would have to prove that they own the copyright on the term “evangelical.”
Horton writes: “Let those maverick ‘evangelicals’ who deny the great truths of the evangelical (and indeed, even the catholic) faith stand up with the courage of their convictions and lead an exodus from evangelicalism, but it is to my mind the height of arrogance and dishonesty to seek to represent oneself as something which one clearly is not.” (Evangelical Arminians: Option or Oxymoron?, emphasis mine)
Horton writes: “My purpose has not been to pontificate about what ought to be done with certain individuals, but to point out the serious crisis evangelicals face as a movement.” (Evangelical Arminians: Option or Oxymoron?, emphasis mine)
So now it’s a “crisis” or better yet, a “serious crisis”? Marketing is that important to Calvinists.
Horton writes: “Today one can be an evangelical-which has historically meant holding to total depravity, unconditional election, justification by grace through faith alone, the sufficiency of scripture-and at the same time be an Arminian, denying or distorting this very evangelical message.” (Evangelical Arminians: Option or Oxymoron?, emphasis mine)
In other words, the evangelical message is being distorted after you first equate “evangelical” with all things Calvinistic. But why should we do that? Because out-marketing Arminians is that critical?