What is Calvinism and Arminianism
Some of you reading this may be wondering what is Calvinism and Arminianism.
Calvinism and Arminianism are two different theological belief systems. These two Christian belief systems have been debated and discussed for hundreds of years.
Calvinism (often referred to by its adherents as Reformed Theology) and Arminianism in their conservative forms agree with each other on what are often considered to be the essentials of the Christian Faith. Some of these areas of agreement include: The Trinity, Salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, the Bible’s Inspiration, and our forgiveness being made possible through the salvation provided in Jesus’ death for our sins (the Atonement).
The disagreement between the two theological systems involves many other areas, but generally focuses on what is referred to as “TULIP.”
TULIP is an easy way to define 5 areas of disagreement between the two main theological strands of Christianity.
Preservation of the Saints
Every aspect of man kind has been touched and corrupted by the effects of sin. There are no truly good, God pleasing impulses in man’s sinful nature except as God gives them. The depravity is so great that man is unable to choose to have a relationship with God. In order to be saved, God must first change man’s nature (being regenerated) before he can choose to believe in God.
Arminian’s also believe that every aspect of man kind has been touched and corrupted by the effects of Sin. Unlike Calvinist’s, Arminian’s believe that while every aspect of man’s nature has been negatively impacted by sin, Man is still able to believe in and to choose a relationship with God. Arminian’s believe that this is only possible as the Holy Spirit enables, convicts, and draws the individual. Because of their sinful nature they would never come to God with out His drawing and enabling them.
People are chosen (elected) to be saved apart from (without looking at) anything within the individual. That means that God did not choose them to be saved because He saw that at some point they would come to faith in Jesus Christ. There is nothing within the person that causes or persuades God to choose to bring them to salvation. All those whom God desires to bring to faith and belief in Jesus, will ultimately believe.
God chooses (elects) those either: 1. Whom He foresee’s (that is looking into the future) will one day believe, or 2. The “Church” (The mass of those who believe) are the Chosen. An individual is part of the “Elect” as he is a part of Christ’s body (a believer). The choosing (or electing) is based upon what the individual will ultimately do: come to faith in Jesus.
Calvinist’s believe that Jesus died on the cross only for those whom God would choose to save. Jesus did not die or provide salvation for those whom God does not draw to salvation (and God only draws some people effectually, not all). Jesus died only for His “Sheep” (that is those whom the Father would regenerate and save).
Arminianism teaches that Jesus loves and died for every person who ever lived. His Atonement and death on the cross are for every human being. Each individual though must have faith in Jesus though in order for the atonement to be applied to them (that is, everyone is not forgiven because of Jesus’ atonement, only those who accept Jesus’ death in their place).
Calvinism teaches that God only draws those He Elects (chooses to believe). For those that He draws, it is “Irresistible.” This means that God through His power, brings to saving faith all whom He chooses. None that He draws will refuse. (Remember, their nature is changed – regeneration – so that faith is now possible).
Arminianism teaches that God draws in some measure every human being. It also teaches that people are able to resist the Holy Spirits drawing and convicting and eventually choose not to come to God or exercise a saving faith in Him. Man is not able to choose to come to God without the drawing/convicting, and empowering of the Holy Spirit. Once provided this “enablement” which helps to overcome for a brief time the effects of the sin nature, man must ultimately choose to accept or reject a relationship with God.
Perseverance of the Saints
All those who are saved will never lose (or reject) their salvation. Since their “true” natures have been permanently changed, they will not (can not) fall into habitual patterns of sin. They will never permanently fall away from their walk with God. They will continue to display the “Fruit of the Holy Spirit” in their lives. If there is no “Fruit” (characteristics of of the Holy Spirit) they are not saved nor were they ever saved.
Arminian’s believe in “conditional perseverance”. Believers persevere only as they continue to exercise or hold to their faith in God. Sin’s do not cause an individual Christian to lose their salvation. It is possible for a believer to reject their faith and relationship with Christ. This purposeful rejection and walking away from their salvation given to them by grace and faith is Jesus can result in the loss of their salvation.
Both Views believe that an individual person can only claim to be a “Christian” if they are continuing to become more like Jesus in their habits, thought patterns, and way of living (in other words they must have the Fruit of the Spirit in their lives).
A third (recent) view is often called “Once Saved Always Saved.” This view which until this last century was rare, teaches that it is possible to not have fruit (that is to not walk with Jesus, exercise faith, etc.) and still be saved. Another way of saying this is that it’s possible to live a life of habitual sin (a continuing pattern and lifestyle of sin). This view does not have the support of either Arminianism nor Calvinism.
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