The Salvation Debate- Calvinism and Arminianism Calvinism and Arminianism are two different systems of theology that attempt to explain the relationship between God’s sovereignty and man’s free will. What differentiates these views is the issue of free will and whether people have any as compared to God’s will. Some people claim that God’s will supersedes human will in all situations if God’s will is different. On the other hand, some people claim God created man with free will and He would not intervene.
However, there are those who do not believe man was created with free will and the sovereignty of God causes everything to occur. The Scripture teaches both the sovereignty of God and the free will of man. It appears unconditional in some places and conditional in other. Although, both systems are based on the Word of God, and both contain truth, neither system can be substituted for reading and believing the Word of God. The doctrine of Calvinism was started from the teachings of John Calvin, a French reformer (1509-1564).
The doctrine of Arminianism was started from the teachings of Jacobus Hermann (1560-1609), known by the Latin form last name, Arminius. Trained in the reformed tradition; Arminius had doubt about the doctrine of “sovereign grace” as taught by the followers of John Calvin. He was a Calvinist until the day he was forced to defend his beliefs and found that his opponent could competently defend his views against Calvinism. This encounter caused Arminius “to modify Calvinism so that ‘God might not be considered the author of sin, nor man an automation in the hands of God. ’”
The Five Points of Calvinism, also known as “TULIP” will be compared and contrasted with the “Five Point of Arminianism. ” 1. Calvinism- Total Depravity vs. Arminianism- Free Will “There is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God” (Roman 3:11) would best explain the Calvinism view of total depravity. The inherent sinful nature of man hinders his desire to seek God. Calvinist believed that man is in bondage to sin and unable to exercise his own free will to trust in Jesus. Free will does not refer to man saving himself but rather when prompt by the Holy Spirit, he may chose to seek God.
Arminius believed that the fall of man was not total, maintaining that there was enough good left in man for him to freely and willfully accept Jesus unto salvation. 2. Calvinism- Unconditional Election vs. Arminiumism- Conditional Election The Calvinist believed that foreknowledge is based upon the plan and the purpose of God, and that election is not based upon the decision of man but the “free will’ of the Creator alone. God selects who is going to be saved. Regardless of what the person may want, He will save them despite of themselves. Acts 9:8 recounts Paul’s experience.
He persecuted the people of God and became blind on the road to Damascus. The Arminius believed that election was based on the foreknowledge of God as to who would believe. Man’s “act of faith” was seen as the “condition” or his elected to eternal life. Since God foresaw him exercising his “free will” in response to Jesus Christ. God knows how a person will react to the gospel before it is presented to them. God does not force His will on man but rather God knew they would be saved. Paul would become a faithful follower of Jesus Christ, for which God elected him and never forced this task upon him. . Calvinism- Limited Atonement vs. Arminiumism- Universal Atonement The Calvinist believed that Jesus Christ died not for the sins of the entire world, but that He died only for those that He elected to go to heaven. Therefore, all for whom He did not die (the non-elect) will be lost. Arminius held that redemption was based on the fact that God loves everyone, that Christ died for everyone, and that the Father is not willing to have anyone perish (John 3:16). The death of Jesus Christ provided the grounds for God to save all men, but each man must exercise his own “free will” in order to be saved. . Calvinism- Irresistible Grace vs. Arminiumism- Prevenient Grace Calvinist believed that God possesses irresistible grace that cannot be rejected. God will draw Himself to those whom He elected regardless of their rebellion against Him, even before expressing faith in Jesus Christ for salvation. Arminius believed that since God wanted all men to be saved, the work of the Holy Spirit helps the believer respond to the Gospel. When a person is prompted for salvation, he can chose to reject God’s call. God knocks on the door; it is our choice to open the door to our heart (Matthew 7:7). 5.
Calvinism- Perseverance of the Saints vs. Arminiumism- Falling from Grace Calvinist believed that salvation is entirely the work of God, and that man has absolutely nothing to do with the process. The saints will persevere because God will ensure He completes the work He had begun. True born again Christians cannot lose or give up his salvation because his salvation is entirely God’s work. Arminius believed that man cannot be saved unless it is man’s will to be saved. Man cannot continue in salvation unless he continues to “will” to be saved. Man can choose to walk away from God’s salvation.
Evaluation of Both Systems of Theology The debate between Calvinism and Arminianism is the sovereignty of God by the Calvinist and the free will of man, or human responsibility, by the Arminians. The Arminian doctrine teaches that man has free will and that God will never interrupt or take that free will away. He created man with the capacity of free choice. I found both theological positions to have Scriptural text to back up each of the five points. Therefore, both positions have truths and wrongs. Philip Schaff concluded, “Both are right in what they assert; both are wrong in what they deny.
If one important truth is pressed to the exclusion of another truth of equal importance, it becomes an error, and loses its hold upon the conscience. The Bible gives us a theology which is more human than Calvinism and more divine than Arminianism, and more Christian than either of them. ” Conclusion The Scripture teaches us that God is sovereign. “Whatever the Lord pleases He does, In heaven and in earth, In the seas and in all deep places” (Psalm 135:6). Man is predestined and elected by God to spend all eternity with Him. “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free rom the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2). To believe that Jesus did not die for the sins of man is nowhere found in the Scripture. John 3:16, teaches the believer that Jesus died for the sins of every man so that he may be saved and have eternal life. Man is born a sinner, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) and apart from the God, man cannot be saved, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13).
Our salvation is contingent on faith, “So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:31). As long as the believer lives for God and does as He commands, we can preserve our salvation. “To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily” (Colossians 1:29). Bibliography Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Fudge, Edward. “What Calvinism and Arminianism Have in Common. Apr. 27, 1992. http://www. edwardfudge. com/written/article1text. html Schaff, Philip. “History of the Christian Church. ” New York, Charles Schibner’s & Son, 1910, pp. 225- 231. Sell, Alan P. F. “The Great Debate: Calvinism, Arminianism and Salvation. ” Grand Rapids: Baker, 1983. Smith, Chuck. “Calvinism, Arminianism, and the Word of God: A Calvary Chapel Perspective. ” Sept. 13, 2002. http://calvaryauroramedia. org/resources/documents/pdf/calvin. pdf Spencer, Duane Edward. TULIP: The Five Points of Calvinism in the Light of Scripture. ” Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979. Arminianism (Jacobus Arminius). “Columbia Encyclopedia. ” Encyclopedia Britannica. 2010. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Jun. 20 2010. http://www. britannica. com/EBchecked/topic/126960/Columbia-Encyclopedia Calvinism. “Columbia Encyclopedia. ” Encyclopedia Britannica. 2010. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Jun. 20, 2010. http://www. britannica. com/EBchecked/topic/126960/Columbia-Encyclopedia